Review Summary: Ah, Mudvayne. While the vast majority of this album isn't memorable, a handful of well crafted tracks deem this release relevant.
Ah, Mudvayne. Is there any other band who attracts so much resent, so much online forum-flaming, for a downward spiralling of album quality in recent years? The New Game wasn’t awful, but the only way I’d give it a repeat listen would be if some New Game fan boy devised a PC virus, eliminating every other item of music from iTunes; enforced listening. Thank God no such fan boy seems to exist: a Sputnikmusic rating of 2.4 exposes The New Game as the disappointment it no doubt is.
With that off my chest, I can progress to a mere 13 months later. The first thing to note is the album title; any time a band throws out a self titled release to the public, it’s a bold statement: the suggestion is that this release will be the band’s seminal release (or maybe they’ve just run out of title ideas, who knows; for the sake of an attempt at an insightful review, let’s assume the former concept). Being a devoted L.D. 50 disciple, (that album makes my top 15 metal albums list, and is quite simply superlative), this record doesn’t match up to that pinnacle of nu metal... In saying that, it’s still oodles better than anything else they’ve released since.
With my pricey new in-ear headphones plugged in, (if you’re an audiophile, sell all of your pets and get some, they’re intense), I trudged through the noise sample opening; is it the sound within a digestive system while undergoing suction from one of those dentist tools? I’m not sure, but the following riffing deems it in the category of: who gives a toss. At this point, 1:16 into the album, I was seemingly convinced that Greg Tribbett had removed his guitar from whichever orifice it had happened to find itself lodged in recently, and resurrected Mudvayne. Also, there’ll always be something comforting in the scream of vocalist Chad Gray; angst-anthems like ‘Happy?’ surely have a soft spot in the hearts of many metal fans the world over, and Chad’s vocals are a large part of such devotion to particular songs. And remember Ryan Martinie? Well…
Track two, ‘1000 Mile Journey’, is as clear a display of Martinie – the previously celebrated bass extraordinaire, and the basic crux of the band’s musicality - as has been seen in quite some time. I’m no bass player, nor expert, but even I can make out the improvement in his involvement within each song.
Another solid cut of metal passes (‘Scream With Me’, which commences with quite a neat clean guitar passage; the track builds into a typical Mudvayne toe-tapper and head-bopper) before the fourth track, ‘Closer’, halts the momentum. The track seems pointless: there just isn’t anything memorable enough about the guitar work, vocals, song structure, or the (weakish attempt at a) solo to stop even dedicated Mudvayne fans from coming down hard on that dreaded skip button. By this stage, I must admit, I was tempted to delete this review, flick back to L.D. 50, lay down and bask in its glory; however, no mediocre metal album will defeat me, so on we march.
Did anyone else chuckle when reading the next title track? Yes, Mudvayne, we sure have ‘Heart It All Before’: the track title is enough of a review for this song as is necessary.
Thank ***. ‘I Can’t Wait’ is more of an attack on the senses than we’ve seen thus far on this new release. With a few (creatively placed) stop-start guitar sections, and a seemingly more involved vocal effort from Chad, this track is easily the best on the album so far. It could probably even con its way into a spot on L.D. 50. Repeat listens to this ripper will reveal just how happening Ryan’s bass can be – he once again proves to be the band’s ace in the pack, a very talented musician, when brought forward in the mixing of the album.
On the topic of mixing: it’s worth noting the production of the album is top notch, akin to most, if not all, Mudvayne albums.
Inventive; back in the good old days, Mudvayne were very much so easily summated by this term, and ‘Beyond The Pale’ is a major throwback to these days. There is definitely a few interesting little sections within this song; these are almost like hidden treasures, for those fans who have been desperately searching the ocean of mediocre releases in the past few years. It has been years before two Mudvayne songs (in a row!) put a smile of indulgence on my dial.
‘All Talk’ is also okay, mainly for the tasteful softer sections; the rest of the song is fairly pedestrian, and therefore probably worth skipping. ‘Out To Pasture’ is a little more original, and therefore better, but is hardly memorable. I’m tempted to just keep ‘I Can’t Wait’ and ‘Beyond The Pale’ on repeat. Two tracks to go…
I was really, really hoping that ‘Burn The Bridge’ would rescue this album’s slide into boredom. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be, and it would be up to album closer ‘Dead Inside’ to end the album with some degree of substance. This occurs, but only to a certain extent; the song is no classic, but a change of atmosphere was definitely needed – a break from the pile-up of mainstream metal tunes which was taking place on the latter stages of the record. It is the closest thing to a ballad on the album, and the acoustic guitars (which aren’t badly played at all by Tribbett) certainly make for decent closure.
Well, I’m certainly not fussed on the majority of this album. In saying that, a few diamonds are to be found in this rough, namely:
- Beautiful and Strange
- 1000 Mile Journey
- Scream With Me
- I Can’t Wait
- Beyond the Pale
For most, scrounging around for these 5 cuts will more than likely suffice for your 2009 Mudvayne fix. Despite the remainder of the tracks being unmemorable, these above 5, for me, deem this album at least an improvement, and ultimately, relevant.
Now, everyone bugger off, while I throw on L.D. 50 and take myself back to the glory days.