Melvins are a band that have not been known to do anything other than what they want to do; something that has lead to some great pieces of music, as well as some pieces that can be passed over.
Due to an increase in their productivity, A Walk With Love & Death is Melvins’ eighth album released since 2010 (eleventh if you decide to count the three live albums that have also been released since 2010; twelfth if you count a cover songs bootleg).
The first half, Love was recorded as a soundtrack for a short film of the same name.
Without being familiar with the film, it is difficult to tell how effective Love is as a soundtrack.
As a collection of songs, some of the tracks work well. There’s an intensity that can be unnerving, drawing on elements of early industrial music as well as found sound to build the atmosphere. At times the songs on Love sounds more like stuff happening in the background that is trying to grab your attention whilst lacking much in the way of giving a reason as to why.
Death is something closer to “traditional” Melvins. It is a bit slower and more laid-back than many of their previous releases. It is also, in some ways, less sludgy and more dirge-like. However, they sound decent enough, with instruments being as punchy as they need to be in any given situation and vocals being no stronger or weaker than usual.
In ways, Death shows that Melvins might need to slow down.
The songs work well enough but they don’t seem to have had enough time. Parts can feel as though they drag when they should feel as though they aren’t and there’s a sense that whilst there is a continuation in sound from the past few records, there’s not enough in the way of refinement.
With that being said, there are more quiet moments and it does feel like an improvement in some ways, with some of the songs being more of the growing type rather than the the type that reveal themselves immediately.
Furthermore, both Love & Death do show that the band work well as a unit. There is a fluidity to their songs that still sounds natural and shows that they know how to feed off of each other and there’s an undeniable talent in their playing.
A Walk With Love & Death doesn’t quite work as an album. It does show two very different sides of Melvins, but there’s a disjoint between each part. Some of the songs on each part work really well, whereas some don’t. There’s enough to warrant one really strong album had the material on Death more time to develop.
Perhaps these should have been two separate albums, with Death coming out in a year or so to give it a bit more time. Perhaps the title of the album is an indication that these are meant to be considered as two separate halves and there is some sort of thematic unity.
Perhaps Melvins need to rest for a little while.