THE NAME OF WHICHEVER dark lord touched his hand to the earth in 1987 to create the Melvins may forever remain a mystery, but the destiny of its malignant brood is still abundantly clear—to confuse the hell out of everybody. Despite a rapidly snowballing college rock scene, the late '80s were far from a musical renaissance, and the realm of "heavy music" was no exception. Enter the Melvins: too much of a detuned juggernaut to be considered punk and too world weary and bludgeoning to truly entrench itself in the metal community of the era, despite a Spinal Tap-esque attitude toward the disposability of bass players.
Despite sludgeathon classics like Houdini and Stag, the band really hit its stride artistically after the wake of the grunge explosion had calmed. The reason that the Melvins are still a force to be reckoned with isn't because they're the heaviest of the heavy, but because underneath the layers of sludge and low-class decorum, the Melvins are, at heart, a high concept progressive band. Scoff if you must, but simply take a look at their recorded legacy. Starting with 1997's dizzying Honky (their first album after being ousted from Atlantic Records), King Buzzo and Dale Crover have carved out a career that functions doubly as a middle finger to small-minded naysayers.
The last few years have seen a flurry of artistic left turns from the band, like collaborations with ambient soundsmith Lustmord and the live avant-electronic avalanche of Colossus of Destiny. Still, what the great majority of Melvins fans want is a lumbering, rock smackdown, and that's exactly what they receive from A Senile Animal, the band's second release of 2006. The album sees them transfused with fresh blood and bristling dynamic tension, as they're further augmented by Northwest bass and drums duo, Big Business, who open this show. The dark lord, whoever he is, wherever he is, is stoked tonight.