By EW Staff
Updated September 24, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

Ask Kurt Cobain about Nirvana and he’ll tell you about Melvins. About how this punk-metal trio from his hometown of Aberdeen, Wash., influenced the younger Cobain and fellow Northwestern noisemakers like Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam. Ask Melvins about Melvins and they’ll mention how Nirvana’s frequent plugs helped these godfathers of grunge-together since 1984-make the leap from five albums and countless singles on a slew of indie labels to the protective custody of Atlantic Records. Coincidence or not, so inextricably bound are the fates of these two bands that Houdini, Melvins’ major-label debut, hit stores the same day as Nirvana’s In Utero. But don’t cue up Houdini expecting to hear Nirvana clones — – even though Cobain coproduced six of the album’s 13 tracks. Where Nirvana offers catchy pop hooks beneath a wall of distortion, Melvins trade in pure power: mega- decibels, fuzzed-out bass, and primal drums jackhammering at half-speed. The antithesis of hardcore, Melvins are slow-core, lag-metal, or an even sludgier grunge. Slunge? Though such influences as Black Sabbath and the ever-popular Kiss are more audible than those of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, Melvins share punk rock’s disdain for the excesses of heavy metal. Their first video, ”Honey Bucket,” is perfect fodder for MTV’s ”Headbangers Ball,” although it pokes fun at the genre by parodying its cliches. ”We wanted some sort of deep, meaningful video for our heavy-metal song, so we did it in a barn playing to sheep,” deadpans drummer/singer Dale Crover, 26. ”There are a few goats here and there as bouncers, wearing security jackets, and then us having a big barbecue at the end.” Unlike some of their alternative brethren, Melvins-who start a month-long tour with Primus on Oct. 1-have no fear of either selling out or succeeding. should Houdini reach the heavenly peaks of Nirvana’s Nevermind. Says Crover: ”If we make a pisspot full of money, I’m ready to buy a Cadillac and eat caviar.”