The sounds of shock and awful rumbled around the room.It was inescapable. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. It was torturous. Youcould feel yourself passing into the afterlife. You could smell the heat ofyour ear drums being incinerated. There was but one resort. Hit the stopbutton.
There was but no other way around it. Let’s rewind 50mintues and add some context…
In the wake of the Smashing Pumpkins‘implosion, Melissa Auf Der Maur kept herself busy with a few projects,including Black Sabbath tribute band Hand of Doom, as well asall-star side project, the Virgins, with former Pumpkins bandmate,James Iha (which is rumored to also include Ryan Adams and Evan Dando, among others).
Produced by Chris Goss, the album featuresappearances by a variety of renowned guests, including Tomahawk‘sJohn Stainer, James Iha, Hole‘s Eric Erlandson, Rocket From TheCrypt‘s Atom Willard, and Kyuss trio Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri andJosh Homme.
“This wasn’t about just working with someone because Iloved their musicianship. This was about musicians in my life in one form oranother for over a decade, people who knew and were sensitive to the factthat I had spent time in someone else’s musical world and wanted to build myown,” she said recently.
“I wrote the majority of the songs, but I consciouslymade room for two other songwriters: Josh Homme and Steve Durand. Josh isone of my dream musicians and a complete inspiration. Steve is my bestfriend and from my first band (Tinker). These guys represented my rootsand my dreams.”
Paying more attention to the collaborators thanMelissa’s exemplory resum� then, one would expect some strokes or betterstill, nothing short of genius. Early indications from the Victorian gothartwork was a neanderthal Pumpkins rehash. Lightning Is My Girl beginsthings with the washing machine buzz of Goss’ 1999 Welcome To The WesternLodge with Masters of Reality. New single Followed The Waves guzzes like Ministry at a birthday party, the industrial drone hairlifting but ultimately just sober shoegazing swill.
Much of the album lies in industrial metal territory.Head Unbound is the most Pumpkins (circa Machina), I’ll Be Anything You Wantis essentially Masters of Reality with Auf der Maur guesting. Goth balladOverpower Thee is vocally juvenile and poorly off-key, while I Need, I Want,I Will was virtually burned from the Desert Sessions so we’ll leave it at that.
The identity of Auf Der Maur on an album which HAD somuch potential is indeed a noir mystery. Auf der Maur admitted she basicallyhad Kyuss as her backing band. It rarely shows – often secreted beneath Goss’surprisingly glossy production lie breakneck desert riffs and sand dusteddrums.
Running a track by track lyrical analysis is prettypointless. You could read The Fellowship of The Ring in one sitting andMelissa would be there at the end of it, wailing like an elf damsel lost inher star-studded fellowship.
In the grand scheme of things Auf der Maur is a “youeither like it, or you don’t” record. Aside from one or two songs it makes for apainful listen. One COULD possibly warm to it. But you’d have to be strappedin a chair at Guantanemo Bay having you’re fingernails ripped out and toestickled first.
And you can bet that despite the cracker that Courtney Love finally pulled out two weeks ago, Melissa will be the one sassyingdown red carpets with her integrity intact. Funny thing, eh? Heck what’snext? Drummers from seminal 90s bands going solo?!