In spite of a long run on Aaron Turner's Hydra Head Records, Seattle's own Big Business are perhaps best known for their frequent live and studio collaborations as members of the Melvins beginning with 2006's (A) Senile Animal through present (bassist/vocalist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis both appear on the latest Melvins album, Basses Loaded, and are listed in the press release for Command Your Weather as current members). While Big Business continued releasing music on their own during that timeframe (as did the Melvins), the exposure not only introduced the former to a large, sympathetic demographic, but also seemed to spur them on to more experimental streaks within their own work .
Starting off as a fairly straightforward stoner/sludge band with 2005's debut, Head for the Shallow, Warren and Willis – supplemented with a rotating coterie of guitar players over the years – really started to broaden their on third album Mind the Drift, released in 2009 roughly midway through their stint as on-again/off-again Melvins members. I recall seeing a gig on one of the joint tours around that time period, and the combined Melvins/Big Business headlining set tended to focus pretty much exclusively on the heavy material – the better to take advantage of the dual drumming set up – so you can see where the impetus to mellow out on their own material may have come from, their more low-end, cataclysmic ambitions already being realized elsewhere.
For whatever reason, in spite of that high visibility Big Business have never seemed to garner nearly the popularity of other Pacific Northwest stoner/sludge acts like Red Fang, Weedeater and the Melvins themselves. One has to wonder to what degree their more experimental ambitions may thwart the interests of straight metal fans who came to the band looking for a less obtuse Melvins and found a band that could befuddle in kind.
If that's the case this year's Command Your Weather should set a lot of those more myopic fans straight. The duo turn in a batch of nine songs that pleasingly split the difference between old school sludge and the brighter, more melodic flights (usually courtesy of Warren's hearty, enthusiastic singing) that have long endeared Big Business as much to discerning indie rock fans as to the metal ones. "Regulars" is probably the catchiest tune Big Business have ever written, an epic riff monster that reaches beyond their mentors in the Melvins and aims for some of that Mastodon bombast as well. They find it.
"Own Throats" has a truly filthy bass line that sounds like a carnival organ being eaten alive by a tree chipper and is another career highlight. "Blacker Holes" welds a little more of that Savannah sound to a flexible, almost noise rock chassis, and "Horses" closes things out with a pocket epic of alternating bass THUD and quiet toy piano. A little on the brief side at nine songs and 38 minutes, Command Your Weather bears the most consistent blend of hooks and heaviosity in the Big Business catalog since that first statement of purpose, Head for the Shallow, over a decade ago.