Considering their long history of continuous releases and touring, one would think that their 16th (or 17th depending on how you view their catalog) full length album would show a significant decline in quality. But like few other acts before them, they have managed to maintain their bizarre and endearing sound for almost 20 years. Hostile Ambient Takeover continues their expansion into various musical styles, a habit they developed after signing to infamous genre hopper Mike Patton's Ipecac label. They exercise their rockabilly chops on the complicated and harsh "Little Judas Congo", a song that goes to prove how amazing Dale Crover can be on the drums. "The Fool, the Meddling Idiot" is a thick grunge crawl that brings to mind their Houdini-era material. "The Brain Center at Whipples" is one of their epic slow burners that showcases the rich vocals of Buzz Osbourne as the song creeps to a dance pop ending that can't help but take the listener by surprise. They sound more soulful in general here, adding 70's rock touches and allowing actual non-aggressive emotions to come across in their performances. But nothing prepares listeners for "The Anti-Vermin Seed", the 16 minute monster that ends the album with a tense and ugly portrait of a very unhappy Buzz Osbourne. His delicate vocals travel over the ungodly slow bassline and bursts of chugging guitar like some acid-drenched caveman trying to make sense of his surroundings. The song is the only one on the disc to live up to the title and be a hostile yet ambient song that ranks among their headiest experiments. The Melvins have yet to live up to their incredible hot streak in the early 90's, but like Motorhead before them they have managed to find endless variations on a likable sound that is distinctly theirs. Fans will probably love it, but to the uninitiated this might be a little too steeped in their traditional weirdness to appeal to non-adventurous listeners.
Hostile Ambient Takeover Review
by Bradley Torreano