Various Artists

We Reach: The Music of the Melvins

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The phrase "way ahead of his/her/their time" gets tossed around a lot in relation to music, but in some cases, it's just so darn appropriate. Motörhead, arguably, was playing thrash metal about seven or eight years before anyone start using that term -- and Iggy Pop was providing punk long before the formation of the Sex Pistols, the Clash, or the Ramones. Sometimes, innovators who are ahead of their time enjoy superstardom (Motörhead, for example), but others don't sell as many albums as the artists they helped pave the way for. Although the Melvins never enjoyed more than a cult following, their ability to combine punk with a strong Black Sabbath influence had a major impact on everything from grunge to alternative metal to doom metal and stoner rock. This 2005 release finds a long list of 21st century artists paying tribute to the sludgy Melvins, and they range from Eyehategod on "Easy as It Was" to Strapping Young Lad on "Zodiac" and the Dillinger Escape Plan on "Honey Bucket." Fractured Transmitter, the independent label that assembled this compilation, acknowledges the Melvins' impact on the doom/stoner field with Eyehategod's performance; Fractured Transmitter salutes their influence on alt-metal with Meatjack's blistering version of "Shevil." Thankfully, most of these bands are smart enough to realize that the most worthwhile covers are not carbon copies of the original versions but rather, try to put a fresh, individualistic spin on something familiar. So instead of trying to sound exactly like the Melvins, the artists generally salute them on their own alt-metal, doom/stoner, or metalcore terms. This CD is slightly uneven, but most of the time, the artists try things that work -- and while We Reach probably won't appeal to those with only a casual interest in the Melvins, it is a lot of fun if one is a hardcore fan of their innovative sludge.

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