Review Summary: Yes, it is that good.
Although I would like to be the last to admit it, if it wasn't for nu-metal, I wouldn't like the more extreme music that I love today. When you're a thirteen-year-old and you're already sick of the computer-generated boy bands and pop princesses, you're next step out of the mainstream isn't going to involve buying an Opeth album. For my sixth-grade brain, I was convinced that Slipknot, System of a Down, Korn, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, and Linkin Park were the complete opposite of the pop kings, when they were actually aiming for the same goal. And while most of the bands from this dark musical period of my life I will never listen to again in my life, some are actually pretty good. Mudvayne is one of those bands.
Mudvayne was always headbanging slightly ahead of the nu-metal curve: they were heavy, brutal, and uncompromising, yet oddly progressive in their overall musical goal. Not many bands that I know of can successfully combine Sepultura-type vocals with a Slipknot-esque guitar sound, while sprinkling RHCP-style basslines that funk heavily under the surrounding chaos. All of that obvious brilliance, while maintaining the perfect blend of positivity and dark angst.
While their admittedly goofy and stereotypically nu-metal appearance (like Slipknot, Mushroomhead, and early System of a Down), Mudvayne may seem less- how do you put this?- real. But don't worry: Mudvayne is full of great instrumentalists and make great music despite their appearance. Guitarist Gurrg really doesn't dish out anything special, but the rhythm section is enough for you to be asking for seconds. sPaG, despite his amazing name, is a very talented drummer. He's able to play very powerfully and with heavy accents during the choruses, while keeping a loose, funky beat during the usually heavier verses, such as in "-1". And while I already briefly mentioned bassist Ryknow earlier in the review, his talent is definitely worth mentioning once more. His basslines range from being nothing more than dark metal riffs, such as in "Cradle", to funky rhythms that simply blow you away, as in "Nothing to Gein".
But what shines the most here is Kud's vocals: this man needs some ritalin, and ***in' FAST. Most of the time he's screaming barely unintelligeable lyrics, changing pitches twelve times in one verse. His screams are particularly evil, and while they won't blow you away with their pure black heaviness, like Mikael Åkerfeldt may, they still bring your heart up a couple of beats. If you had to pinpoint Kud's greatest talent among his many, you would have to say his unmatched ability to go from soft croons to instant spinetingling screams loud enough to raise the dead.
But now it's time to examine the negatives of L.D 50. The album is definitely way too long, especially when the songs don't change pace or style very often, and it's often difficult to sit all the way through this. This isn't a large complaint, since the songs are so great, but this doesn't work too great as an album. My only other complaints would be regarding the quality of the lyrics (of which are usually barely understandable, so this is only a problem if you're know-it-all nit-picker) and the dark ambient interludes, which remind me shudderingly of other bands with certain ambient interludes. But, as you can see, these negatives are minor and don't really inhibit the pure fun that this album brings to the table.
Like other unfortunate bands such as Television, Joy Division, The Doors, Linkin Park, and The Ramones, Mudvayne has never been able to top their debut. They've mellowed, and they've dropped the silly makeup, but they've never reached the atmospheric peak of L.D. 50. And that's okay, since they left us with an uncompromising masterpiece. And while it seems stereotypical to say this, especially on this website, this is nu-metal's defining album.