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Mudvayne – Mudvayne Review

December 21, 2009 | Posted by MP Schroeder

Where’s the beef?

Gimmicks have always been welcome in Mudvayne. Be it a set of costumes and grotesque makeup, adopting silly pseudonyms, asking the fans to concoct a compilation album, a fan-solved murder mystery, or using black light to reveal an album’s artwork, you’ve got to hand it to the band for trying different ways to get fans’ attention. But what happens when gimmicks are all the band delivers? Sadly, the band has been musically unsatisfactory ever after The End of All Things to Come, culminating with the radio-ready The New Game. Mudvayne though, may be the best balance between gimmick and music the band has come up with. Still, more gimmick than music.

Growing pains

While Mudvayne’s previous album The New Game had fans frustrated over how the band had strayed from its polyrhythmic assault in order to obtain a more radio-friendly sound, the album did yield some refreshing elements. Guitar solos were the main new addition to their sound, and more streamlined songs were welcome after the meandering muck of Lost and Found. These two elements are used effectively in Mudvayne, providing the equivalent to The New Game plus The End of All Things to Come. This growth is applauded because the band has given an edge to its trademark assault instead of recycling the same old ideas. Wish I could say the same about the lyrics, though.

Oh woe is me

For how long can Chad Gray sing about the same trite topics? It’s always about being left alone in a corner with no one to understand your pain and how much you hate the world and the ever-lying government. Get over it. Sure, when the band started it was fine because they were pissed-off, hungry young men, but I’m sure their success has given them more than enough comfort to get over their anger issues. Mudvayne is full of whining, pessimistic lyrics that get tiresome fast. Maybe it’s time for the band to embark on a conceptual project that develops a story that’ll give reason to a character’s suffering, and maybe even offer some token of advice in the end, instead of listening to Gray’s bitching.

The good, the bad and the highlights:

The good is that, instrumentally, the album is kick-ass. Greg Tribbett has finally decided to shred extensively and does a great job. The Martinie-McDonough rhythm combo is sick as always. Thrash beats are used frequently, and a more compact approach to songcraft makes the music more immediate and intense.

The bad is that we have to go through the same lyrical topics all over again. Some of the songs do have an impact regardless of the lyrical repetition because Chad Gray injects an extra jolt of power into his performance, but the rest are either too lazy or too whiny to cut through.

The highlights are:

”Beautiful and Strange”

Relentlessly displays Mudvayne’s edgy take on their trademark sound.

”1000 Mile Journey”

A grinding riff and Chad Gray’s strong performance make this a standout track.

”Heard It All Before”

Both old and new Mudvayne elements put together masterfully.

”I Can’t Wait”

This is the album’s most insane track. The whole band kills, all guns blazing.

”Dead Inside”

Mudvayne’s first-ever acoustic song is a nice balance to the album’s onslaught.

Why bother with a video?

This is the part where I show you the band’s video for their single off their new album. But, after reading Chad Gray’s comments in an interview with ArtistDirect’s Rick Florino, it’s no surprise there’s no video to show. When asked if the band has been writing any new material, Gray responded: “No, we haven’t. We haven’t done anything. We’re not even doing anything behind this record. We’re not touring, we’re not doing shit. We’re just putting it out.” Again, as much as it’s cool to get lost in the album’s black-light-reactive artwork, you can’t think that such a gimmick will last forever. It’s frustrating that a band as talented as Mudvayne has such an erratic output.

Evolution calling

If Mudvayne wants to keep on being a credible act, they’d better get their shit straight. Mudvayne shows that they’re capable of evolving and creating awesome music. The thing is, Mudvayne isn’t an awesome album. Sure, there are very good tracks in it, but the thing as a whole misses. The band needs to reassess its resources and do things in a complete, convincing way, both musically and artistically. If you’ve been waiting for the next L.D. 50, I’m sorry to say this album isn’t it. What you’re left with is a rather satisfying Mudvayne album that could grow on you and yield some pleasant rewards you won’t find at first listen. Let’s just hope the next album is in this same refreshing direction.

The 411: Mudvayne’s Mudvayne is a good album with some interesting bits thrown in to keep things from being monotonous and recycled. Most of the lyrics are stock angst and hatred and will bore you fast. The reactive artwork is nothing to go crazy about, though it is a nice compliment to the package. Give it a spin and keep what you like, but don’t expect it to blow your mind like their earlier stuff.
 
Final Score:  7.5   [ Good ]  legend

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MP Schroeder

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