Episode 36 – Melvins is Cult, Part 1: Hostile Ambient Takeover

Episode 36 – Melvins is Cult, Part 1: Hostile Ambient Takeover

Radical Research Podcast
Radical Research Podcast
Episode 36 - Melvins is Cult, Part 1: Hostile Ambient Takeover

Melvins’ career — a vast, still-expanding 36-year odyssey across the full spectrum of heavy and experimental sound — is marked by goalposts, some triumphant, some deviant. On this episode of Radical Research, we train a critical eye on 2002’s bellwether, the curiously-named Hostile Ambient Takeover. The album takes stock of many of the band’s hallmarks: droning, hypnotic trance rock, mathematical hijinks, and Mountain/Cactus-inspired groove. But the band breaks with its tradition of conspicuous mash-up and manages these generic demarcations with remarkable seamlessness. To drop it into proper context, we also take a look at the band’s late ’90s wilderness period and their mid-’00s absorption of the hefty Big Business. As always, we invite you to join us as we pick apart but a sliver of one of rock music’s most fascinating, and enduring, institutions.

Note I:
In the first half of 2003, Melvins and their label, Ipecac, released Hostile Ambient Takeover as a 7-inch series. The album tracks are a-sides, while the b-sides are mostly cover versions, Melvins-ized songs by Mott the Hoople, Ramones, The Gun Club, Alice Cooper, Warlock Pinchers and The Tubes.

Note II:
We spend little time on the influence of Melvins, but their music has inspired artists working in math rock, sludge, doom, left-field art rock, desert rock, and beyond. The most well known Melvins devotee was Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, who played an indispensable role in the career of Melvins, evangelizing their cause in the early ’90s and producing a portion of their major label debut, Houdini. Other artists inspired and/or influenced by Melvins include — but are certainly not limited to — Brutal Truth, Boris, Mind Over Four, Crowbar, Baroness, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Helmet, Eyehategod, High on Fire, Soundgarden, Mastodon, Strapping Young Lad/Devin Townsend, Zeni Geva, and Sunn0))).

Note III:
As hinted by the title of this episode, we hope to occasionally dig in to some other facet of planet Melvins in future episodes. Honky, Stag, Hold it In, Egg Nog…who knows?!

Note IV:
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Music cited, in order of appearance:
“The Anti-Vermin Seed” (Hostile Ambient Takeover, 2002)
“In the Freaktose the Bugs are Dying” (Honky, 1997)
“See How Pretty, See How Smart” (The Maggot, 1999)
“Black Stooges” (Hostile Ambient Takeover, 2002)
“Dr. Geek” (Hostile Ambient Takeover, 2002)
“Little Judas Chongo” (full song) (Hostile Ambient Takeover, 2002)
“The Fool, the Meddling Idiot” (Hostile Ambient Takeover, 2002)
“The Brain Center at Whipples” (Hostile Ambient Takeover, 2002)
“Foaming” (Hostile Ambient Takeover, 2002)
“The Anti-Vermin Seed” (Hostile Ambient Takeover, 2002)
“A History of Bad Men” ((A) Senile Animal, 2006)
episode 37 preview: Devil Doll, “Eliogabalus” (Eliogabalus, 1990)

Radical Research is a conversation about the inner- and outer-reaches of rock and metal music. This podcast is conceived and conducted by Jeff Wagner and Hunter Ginn. Though we consume music in a variety of ways, we give particular privilege to the immersive, full-album listening experience. Likewise, we believe that tangible music formats help provide the richest, most rewarding immersions and that music, artwork, and song titles cooperate to produce a singular effect on the listener. Great music is worth more than we ever pay for it.

This is Radical Research Podcast episode 36.