There comes a time in many a noise-rock performer's life when he desires to play music somewhat more user-friendly and less confrontational. In 1998, Melvins drummer Dale Crover established the side-project Altamont, taking the lead as guitarist/singer (he also plays bass and drums, on occasion). Monkee's Uncle is Altamont's third release. With frequent, albeit brief, bursts of dissonance, the record is unlikely to reach mainstream radio, but Uncle has potential to warm the hearts of fans of '70s proto-metal. Altamont evokes a less-slick version of Ozzy-era Black Sabbath, mixed with the monolithic riff-driven thwack of early Killing Joke and the ominous melodic quirks of Blue Öyster Cult. To listen to Uncle is to visualize a concert full of stoner hordes pumping their fists along with the strutter “El Stupido” and the sneering adolescent 'tude of “Pedigree.” But the record is saved from the “retro metal” tag by its seething psychedelic squall, exemplified by the trippy, fuzz-toned guitar soloing found on “The Bloodening” and Cro- ver's melodious, sardonic singing. Altamont represents a merrily uneasy alliance betwixt headbanging and finesse.

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