[sic] Magazine

Mudhoney – Vanishing Point

Every band eventually burns out, unravels and disintegrates. All the same, 25 years and nine LPs in, Mark Arm is probably as surprised as anyone that Mudhoney are still recording and that they still don’t suck. In more ways than one, maybe forever having been in the shadow of Nirvana has allowed the band to survive away from common-market glare.

In any case, the band have always been most comfortable when under the eaves of long-time running-mate Sub Pop and Vanishing Point ‘s 30 highly entertaining minutes are no doubt in part a product of this symbiotic relationship. Thus, playing join-the-dots with hard rock, hardcore, stoner rock, nostalgic proto-punk, sludgecore and, of course, fuzzy grunge – not to mention stints of abject noise and bloodcurdling profanity – Vanishing Point is brash, loud and fun, as deeply mired in Mudhoney’s own history as that of all underground rock.

Arm’s strangled howl of a vocal remains as dangerous as ever, sneering its way through the tongue-in-cheek “Sing This Song Of Joy” for example and rumbling in time with the thunderous drums on “Douchebags On Parade” – the album’s thrilling climax during which you’re defied not to wholly embrace the warts-and-all thrills of primal rock.

Of the remainder, the guitar-heavy “I Like It Small” and the strutting “I Don’t Remember You” hit like prime-era Stooges , the latter tailing off into a smile-inducing Hendrix homage. “Chardonnay” is pure spittle-flecked thrash, while “What To Do With The Neutral” houses an ugly, sludgy groove that the dark and awesome “The Final Course” fills out in due course with bludgeoning classic rock, the band closing the track with a tense instrumental after Arm earlier and accurately declares that “ out go the lights “.

Any and all worthwhile comparison between Mudhoney and Nirvana – the rise of each and what Nirvana could have sounded like today – has been well covered elsewhere, so suffice it to say here that should Kurt Cobain rise from the grave and release anything as essential as Vanishing Point then there’d be very few complaints. It’s ultimately an unnecessary link though for as Mudhoney have been proving for the last quarter of a century, they deserve to be considered in isolation and as one of rock’s last great stands. Vanishing Point is just fuel to the fire at this point.

~Vanishing Point is released April 1st 2013 on Sub Pop .~