“Stag” marks the last major label Melvins release, following their two most accessible (and therefore popular) albums of the time, “Houdini” and “Stoner Witch”. Those two albums offered very sludgy, dirgy post-grunge type outings, all the time incorporating strong melody and solid structures. With “Stag” the band took a more experimental route, often throwing conventional song structures out of the window, leaving an album that is confusing, yet utterly compelling.
The album starts with a bang, “The Bit” is classic Melvins, full of powerful riffs and contrasts between brooding eerie verses and huge choruses. The album then takes its experimental turn, as from “Hide” to “Cottonmouth” it is difficult to make out any songs with standard structuring. Examples of this include “The Bloat” which starts with some old school slide guitar, then strips down to a sumptuous melodic bass line and some rather contrasting angry vocals. “Black Bock” starts almost like a kindergarten song, but then erupts into a swirling psychedelic closing section, full of lush vocal harmonies and trippy guitars. “Buck Owens” is another confusing song, with twisting rhythm and timing changes, almost like the band is experimenting with a warped take on prog metal. Fans of the Melvins’ dirge will not be disappointed here, especially with “Goggles”, a thunderous snail-paced tour-de-force of Buzzo’s riffing.
Overall if you like grunge/post-grunge/stoner stuff, this album should appeal to you. If you like your music with a deal of experimentation it will definitely be worth your time, but for others who want something a little more straight laced, you’ll be best to stick with the more accessible Melvins work, such as “Bullhead”, “Houdini” and “Stoner Witch”.