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Mushroomhead - X X

Formed in 1993, Mushroomhead's first national release has been a long time coming, especially for the groups ever loyal Cleveland fan base who have helped them sell out venues all over Ohio. But the bands name and reputation have also spread during the past few years due to their alleged rivalry with Slipknot, as both bands share similarities, with Mushroomhead featuring 8 costumed members in its ranks. In all seriousness though, included on this release is a raw sound that doesn't resemble Slipknot in the slightest. Headed by two vocalists, the group swell with winding buildups, careening keyboards, a few samples and loosely downtuned guitar riffs, before expelling it all in aggressive bursts of metalcore fury interlaced with the occasional rap and techno styled flourish.

With calmly detached Mike Patton reminiscent vocals crooning out haunting passages and choruses, backed by a deep and throaty hardcore verbal approach that brings to mind Earth Crisis frontman Karl Buechner's earlier works, the bands two frontmen J Mann and Jeffery Nothing trade parts back and forth in a convulsing and inherently corrosive manner. But despite the conflicting tones, both vocalists doe seem to know each other quite well and as a result each of their contrasting parts tend to weave together, rather than overlap, whether it be through long winded wails, aggro screams or the occasional hoarse throated rap. Guitar work owes a bit to the new metal pioneering of perhaps Korn and the like, using shredding riffs that pierce the silence like a bare foot on a rusty nail, yet despite their generous helping of distortion and contorting ambiance, they never seem to really be able generate a completely satisfying crunchy feel, instead becoming more of a sonic garnish rather than an integral factor of the songs momentum. Bass playing is also a bit downtuned and is played with a heavy handed percussive style that utilizes a wealth of slap hits to give the music a bottomed out feel, while the drum beats pummel out underneath, heavily syncopated with the bass as they hammer out thundering waves of double kick. Augmented by samples and keyboards which are played in a fairly unconventional way, the general atmosphere established is quite creepy, yet not in the typical and contrived camp horror film way or the over used circus music approach. Instead, its more of a beast of its own, thriving on eerie harmonics or all out techno bombast, though there does seem to be a touch of Mr. Bungle/Faith No More influence present at most times.

As a complete package this CD has a startling amount of diversity to offer, but its also hard to judge the band based solely upon this release due to the fact it is in a sense a greatest hits collection of their past 3 albums, showing up here in a remixed form. For sure, there is a definite showcase of talent and bold ideas present, but its also a bit scattered and lacks any solidified direction due to the timeline it was pieced together from. Despite its lineage though, the music does for the most part tend to overcome the aforementioned shortcomings with its ambitious incorporation of everything from rap, metal, techno, hardcore, industrial, new metal, electronica and nearly everything else you could imagine. The album also comes bookended by a hidden song that includes a different version of the track "Bwomp" along with arguably one of the most hilarious prank calls ever captured to date, involving an inner city black man calling about a position in a black metal band. However, though in the end the primary focus on this eight piece will probably be centered upon their costumes and stage presence, this eclectic collection of songs will most likely alienate those weaned upon the modern metal scene, while thrill and inspire those into mind expansion and forward thinking genre blending of the aggressive variety.

(3.5 / 5)


Purchase This Album

Filthy Hands/Eclipse Records

1. Before I Die
2. Bwomp
3. Solitaire/Unraveling
4. These Filthy Hands
5. Never Let It Go
6. Xeroxed
7. The Wrist
8. Chancre Sore
9. The New Cult King
10. Born Of Desire
11. 43
12. Epiphany
13. Episode 29

Official Website
Mushroomhead Interview


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