King Buzzo has a lot of musical ideas chawing beneath his mondo shag, prompting the release of a seventeen-song solo album. As one of the principal inspirations sometimes overlooked in the evolution of NIRVANA, it's justifiable Buzz Osborne names his new album "This Machine Kills Artists". That idiom can be applied to the suicide of Kurt Cobain, revisited in gory fashion this year, but it's largely a street testimony from one of the underground's most revered sludge guitarists and songwriters. With saying it bluntly, Osborne asserts bands come and go as commercial fodder.
At the end of the day, "This Machine Kills Artists" is about a musician who has seen the industry view from both the major and indie level perspectives. He is content to stay indie and thus stay honest. Buzz Osborne is a one-man-jam serving up acoustic crashes and interchanging vocal pitches, some bearing traces of filters and scramblers, which subtly make his point about the mecha-minded grinding up of musicians. Along the way, Osborne casts one self-deprecating joke after another as much as he tears up what annoys him externally.
Rhythmic and itchy with the only trace of a beat provided by the occasional knock upon the base of his acoustic, Buzz Osborne utilizes the unplugged environ to slay his grooves. As one of the loudest acts in rock, this is decidedly an un-MELVINS album as much as it is. With song titles such as "Drunken Baby", "The Vulgar Joke", "How I Became Offensive", "The Blithering Idiot", "The Spoiled Brat" and "Useless King of the Punks", how could it not be a MELVINS slab at-heart?
The MELVINS palettes are certainly there across-the-board and it's easy to imagine a two drum attack behind Buzz, spearheaded by longtime partner, Dale Crover. For those MELVINS fans with less patience, the strict acoustic rule to "This Machine Kills Artists" might give less than what they're craving, yet Osborne sacrifices not a lick of energy as he has his rhythm section. To his credit, he is the rhythm section all to himself and for seventeen songs, this album moves along faster than expected.
Osborne doesn't just strum down the strings on "This Machine Kills Artists", he ravages them as if attempting to conjure blaring static from their vibrations. "Rough Democracy" and "Instrument of God" come as close to electric emissions as you can produce acoustically, and Osborne fuses some delicate chops on both songs despite his compulsively heavy wrist.
"Laid Back Walking" is filled with a grimy resonance that sounds like the foundation of a MELVINS boomer, while "Vaulting Over a Microphone" finds Osborne hitting some his most appealing vocals atop his snapping strums. "The Vulgar Joke" is just as ugly in delivery as it is in title and the choppy chords Osborne strikes while keeping a subtle ticking drive on one string is something to hold onto through the bitterness of it.
After a while, "This Machine Kills Artists" does get hard to hang through the murkier tracks, though the swinging country blues on "The Ripping Driving" is a cool midpoint ditty. Caveat, that one's destined to get raked over the coals as only Buzz can get away with. "How I Became Offensive" is a compelling and melancholic changeup bearing a straightforward melody that gets broiled by distorted vocals and low-end string taps producing a mechanized shrill behind the main groove. However, the rock undertone of "The Spoiled Brat" is easy to grab onto, even as Osborne scat-whispers it to a close.
He's crazy fast on "Useless King of the Punks" and his choice to hang in the ether of Nineties' grunge (lying somewhere between MUDHONEY and early NIRVANA) on this track seems to both validate and deride the nostalgic love affair that era's generation clings to, much as Eighties headbangers and punkers do their own period music. Buzz Osborne's been there through both decades.
It's impressive what Buzz can do in one station and it's why "This Machine Kills Artists" is worth digging into. Osborne does repeat himself at times, but his agenda here is well-served, which includes baiting MELVINS fans to dive headfirst for "Stoner Witch" and "Nude With Boots".