Three strikes from indie metal gods 

The Melvins have always been described as heavy metal for those who hate heavy metal. Drummer Dale Crover agrees: "We're too weird for heavy-metal people and too metal for alternative people." And despite a major-label ride with Atlantic Records in the mid-'90s, the Melvins are still an underground band with a cult following. For more than 15 years, Crover, singer/guitarist King Buzzo and an endless stream of bass players have consistently generated heavy, guitar-based rock that avoids every heavy, guitar-based-rock cliché. With adolescent faves Korn and Limp Bizkit ruling the airwaves, the Melvins are unlikely to win over the pimply-faced teen-age crowds. On their new CD, however, Crover boasts, "I think we're taking those bands to school."

"The Maggot" is the first in a trilogy the band recorded this year. It's exactly what you'd expect from the Melvins: sludgelike riffs, creepy vocals, drumming mayhem and an irreverent yet tongue-in-cheek attitude. Again, comparisons to the original dark lords of metal are inevitable, but Crover notes the influence is "Black Sabbath via Black Flag." And despite the Melvins' reputation for performing epic-length songs at a glacierlike pace, "Maggot" is highly moshable.

"The Bootlicker," the second CD due out later this month -- reportedly quiet, complex pop music -- should be the complete opposite of all previous releases. New bassist Kevin Rutmanis (formerly of the Cows) claims it to be his favorite Melvins record. Lastly, Ipecac Records will release "The Crybaby" in November. The band invited Hank Williams III, Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle), Tool, Beck and David Yow (Jesus Lizard) to contribute to the disc. The highlight of "Crybaby" will be '70s teen-idol Leif Garrett singing "Smells Like Teen Spirit." (The Melvins and Nirvana were very good friends.)

The Melvins' current tour schedule is packed tight. They're booked for as many as eight nights in a row in eight different cities. The band could be one of the hardest-working bands in show business this summer. Either that, or they're trying to earn some quick cash to support the three CDs they're releasing over a short five-month period.

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