JELLO BIAFRA & THE MELVINS
Never Breathe What You Can't See
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What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? What happens when the most controversial Punk Rock vocalist/activist on earth teams up with the heaviest band of our time? What happens when Jello Biafra and the Melvins put their collective heads together and do an album?
"Never Breathe What you Can't See" is what happens! A musical monster of massive proportions is born, bristling with Jello's manic energy and anchored by the sheer heft of the Melvins' collective heaviness. With both camps flexing their musical prowess, the result is something that retains the signature qualities of both artists and yet sounds refreshingly unlike anything that either has recorded in the past.
If the tag team of Jello Biafra and the Melvins wasn't enough, there's guests from Tool, Phantom Limbs, Fleshies, Frisk, Spitboy, Malnourished, and Gag Order as well!
Never Breathe What You Can't See
[Alternative Tentacles; 2004]
Jello Biafra is pissed. This might not be a surprise to anyone keeping tabs on the former Dead Kennedys singer, whose scathing leftist diatribes have been the primary focus of a consistently fascinating but frustratingly uneven career. This time, the root of Biafra's frustration-- aside from the threat of global terrorism, the Bush administration's response to the threat of global terrorism, and, uh, yuppies in Cadillacs-- is personal: The Melvins approached him about a possible collaboration after witnessing the supposed Dead Kennedys "reunion," which-- after a series of inter-band legal disputes-- occurred without Biafra at the helm...
The Melvins are ideal musical foils to Biafra's maniacal persona, and show an admirable willingness to subdue and camouflage their normally obtrusive sound. The band members' great admiration and respect for Biafra's work are evident in the album's malleable arrangements, which strike a perfect balance between the Melvins' grimy post-alternative metal and classic Kennedys-style California punk. Opener "Plethysmograph" begins with a blast of trademark Melvins sludge metal but quickly melts into a driving, dead-on Kennedys riff. The band's subtle emulation brings out the wicked humor in Biafra's sardonic description of a controversial genital device (approved by Attorney General John Ashcroft) used to administer shock therapy to perverts.
The album's strongest material avoids the type of somber apocalyptic weight that characterized Biafra's late-90s efforts with Lard. "McGruff the Crime Dog" uses the trenchcoated children's icon as a symbol for an intrusive U.S. world police force, as Melvins guitarist Buzz Osbourne's rapid metal riff captures the demented energy of Biafra's lyrics. "Caped Crusader" is an attack religious fanaticism, and is blanketed in Sabbath-style affected gloom. Biafra-- with the "help" of Ashcroft and 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta-- offers a virulent indictment of zealous anti-terror "crusaders": "God is great/ God is love/ We must kill infidels!"
...Never Breathe What You Can't See isn't exactly a return to form for Biafra-- only a return to format. He's essentially sold the same brand of hyperactive fuck-all rhetoric since his earliest days as the ultimate manic street preacher of West Coast punk. Both Biafra's sentiment and approach have dated, though, and this album lacks a needed urgency. The most telling and affecting commentary Biafra offers concerns the singer's own legacy, on "Enchanted Thoughtfist": "The pressure of being taken seriously/ Breathing down on me, to keep up with my extremes/ And keep on plantin' seeds." The song's closing mantra ("Start your own fire/ Bring the world fire") suggests that Biafra's discontented fury still runs strong, and that he isn't about to fade away without a fight."- Pitchfork Media
"In the same way that the Melvins' last collaboration (Melvins + Lustmord) was more a Melvins than Lustmord sounding affair, this team-up with former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra sounds more like Jello's record...but it's punk rock, not spoken word, don'tcha worry. As his back-up band, the Melvins rock out righteously, and of course there's nothing like unstable times to stoke the flames of the irrepressible, razor-tongued Jello Biafra. He's sure got plenty of material to work with these days. This actually nears the Biafra fury of old DK days. As usual, plenty of easy targets get clobbered (fer instance, the anti-SUV song "Yuppie Cadillac", perhaps a sequel of sorts to the DK's "Winnebago Warriors") and it's a lot of fun -- as long as you're not a Jello-hater. Anyone with a soft spot for the DKs ought to enjoy this though! Maybe less so for Melvins fans (who were better served with that Lustmord collab disc) but the punkier among you will like both the Melvins-penned cuts and the slightly goofier-sounding Biafra written tunes. Definitely the best Biafra in a while, that's for sure. And in the vast Melvins canon, not nearly as difficult or wacky as, say, Crybaby or Prick!"- Aquarius Records
"Melvins joined forces with Jello in response to what both camps saw as a phony Kennedy reunion, with the view of touring DK songs. Instead they came up with enough great tunes for two records (see also the follow-up/companion piece 'Sieg Howdy') and one of the best in a long line of excellent collabrations for Jello Biafra."- Rock-A-Rolla
"This is quite the supergroup relese if I've ever seen one. Sludge slingers, The Melvins, teaming up with the outspoken Jello Biafra. Who would of thunk it? Amazingly... well not amazingly... because these guys on their own are an amazing bunch. But this is a really good album. The interesting thing is that, for the most part, this doesn't sound like traditional Melvins material. Which I guess is the point, to a certain degree, of doing a collaborative effort like this. Jello's performance, is of course, Jello. And a great performance at that. There are a few parts that are slightly reminiscent of Dead Kennedys, but not in anyway disappointing... just a simple nod. Overall though, this album has a great powerful vibe, not only through the great production, but also because of the Melvins natural heaviness, no matter what type of style they are trying to lend their sludge to. And then of course, Jello always has something to say, which is entertaining in of itself."- Dirt Culture