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The Melvins: Underground to stay

The Seattle-based trio, an influence for grunge acts of the '90s, will play the State Theatre.

With the Melvins, it's long been a case of "always the bridesmaid, never the bride." The Seattle trio, which plays tonight at the State Theatre, has held the undying respect of its alternative rock peers since forming in 1984. Cited as an influence by Nirvana, Soundgarden and every grunge band that scored major league success in the early 1990s, the Melvins have yet to burst from the underground.

That's because in this day of hyper rap-rock and sugary power ballads, the band really doesn't fit in with the mainstream.

The Melvins approach punk slowly, with a menacing, dirge-like sound more in line with Black Sabbath than the Ramones. The band balances the darkness with humor; these are the guys who released three solo albums duplicating the covers of Kiss's legendary solo LPs.

The Maggot, the band's latest CD, is the first in a trinity of "experi-metal" albums the Melvins will release in three-month intervals. The Bootlicker will be released this month. The Crybaby, due in November, features 1970s teen idol Leif Garrett belting out Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Melt Banana, a lively noise-rock band from Japan, opens tonight's show.