The Melvins’ major-label debut came about because of Kurt Cobain, who was appointed unofficial A&R scout to the music industry in the wake of Nirvana’s phenomenal success. Cobain helped win major contracts for bands that had long been ignored by the mainstream, often intentionally. The Melvins were so inherently anti-commercial that it’s still amazing to think Atlantic endorsed them. Fortunately, they made the most of their increased financial support and created Houdini, their hardest and most popular album. Co-produced by Cobain on six tracks (he also plays guitar on “Sky Pup”), Houdini has the most in-your-face sound of the Melvins’ career. They didn’t alter their formula, but rather souped it up. The guitars spill from the speakers like hot lava, and for the first time it’s possible to taste the hot stench of Buzz Osbourne’s vocals. Everything they do is done best here: the grinding, seething drones, the medieval trudges, the socked-in Sabbath grooves. They even reeled off a couple of “hits” in the form of “Lizzy” and “Going Blind.”

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