Album Review: Dale Crover – The Fickle Finger Of Fate

By Ryan Falla

Dale Crover of Melvins fame has always been involved in side projects with and without Buzz Osborne. Now we get to see him release one under his own name, his solo debut ‘The Fickle Finger of Fate’; and it’s weird as hell. And not the quirky or strange kind of weird, but just absolutely out there in so many ways. Much in line with the Melvins’ style of music, Dale Crover twists and pulls at his specific style of grunge to create something indescribably weird.

For starters you’ll probably notice the album starts out with a 20-second track dedicated to Dale riffing out on the drums; and much of the album is like this. The production sounds flangey as hell, way more low-fi than even the early Melvins, but the intent behind it is obvious which gives the album a strange sense of endearment. The opening track ‘Chicken Ala King’ is a cool, quick drum piece that flows into the track ‘Bad Move’, which is much more mainline grunge. There’s the deep, groovy bass that settles in at the beginning of the track and drives the relaxed grooves of the tune.

Right after its first official full song, the album pops into drum riffage that sounds like it’s all just jams Dale recorded and decided to fill the album up with them. It’s definitely a drummer decision to make, as it’s very atypical to fill a record with a bunch of jam tracks that feature one instrument, but that’s also the beauty of the drums and Dale Crover exploits that beauty to its fullest. There’s a bit of understanding that has to come from your end on the fact that it’s just drum jams and take them for what they are, because a lot of those mini drum riff tracks are interesting in their own right.

There probably could have been a little more restraint in choosing the drum jams to be featured on the record, but overall it’s a pretty fun and interesting idea that Dale Crover plays with on ‘The Fickle Finger of Fate’. You get sweet little drum jams like ‘None, No More’ that applies the idea of grunge riffage to percussive execution.  There’s a good amount of tracks that are Dale screwing around that work really well in their own right, like ‘String Bing’; though on the other hand there are just as many jams that sound like what you’d expect to hear from a drummer having a quick go around on the drums. I can see this being pretty divisive because it’s up to the listener’s taste on how well they enjoy drum noodling.

In the first half of the album you only get a grand total of three fully featured tracks; ‘Bad Move’, ‘Hillbilly Math’ and ‘Little Brother’. The thing is, they’re all really good songs yet they’re alone in what is mostly a noise jam record featuring the standard drums with some electronic effects. It doesn’t feel as weary as it gets in the second half of the album, but that’s a matter of the restraint needed in choosing the noise tracks. There are a grand total of 20 tracks on the record and I can’t help but feel the gold mine of drum jams are in the first half.

Interestingly enough, the gold mine of tracks that are written standardly happen to be the laid back acoustic tracks. The title track ‘The Fickle Finger of Fate’ as well as ‘Little Brother’ and ‘I Found the Way Out’ completely take the cake. In total there are about 6 standard tracks to dig into aside from the plethora of drum riffing that’s going on in the record.

A more condensed approach could have assisted the overall quality of the record, though that isn’t to take away from the quality that is already present. It does need to be noted that ‘The Fickle Finger of Fate’ will test your patience given how overstuffed the record is, and overall, this is a quality album that takes on a bit too much for its own good.

Rating: 7/10

If you like what you’ve read/seen, buy a shirt and help keep Metal Assault running full time!

Come to one of our events!

Record Label: Joyful Noise
Release Date: August 4th 2017

Track Listing:
01. Chicken Ala King (0:31)
02. Bad Move (3:28)
03. The Members Bounce (0:15)
04. None, No More (0:31)
05. Hillbilly Math (4:01)
06. String Bean (0:32)
07. The Short Con (0:27)
08. Little Brother (4:36)
09. Tiny Sound (2:26)
10. Slide On Up (1:08)
11. Big Uns (4:07)
12. Prismo (0:13)
13. Giant Hunka Cake (0:26)
14. Fickle Finger of Fate (4:38)
15. Thunder Pinky (1:48)
16. Horse Pills (0:29)
17. There Goes the Neighborhood (3:06)
18. Our Supreme Leader (0:15)
19. I Found the Way Out (2:41)
20. Vulnavia (0:43)

Total Duration: 36:21