As your musical maturity develops, you often tend to shuffle aside bands you used to love. Having listened to a variety of music, and being accustomed to more complexities within music, you become able to listen to your old music with a different ear, and decide what is, sadly, crap
. However, as your musical ear expands, you can often see exactly what it is in a band you find terrific. Mudvayne is one of these bands. I enjoyed their music immensely when I was 13 years old, but I never really wondered why. Music is subjective, yes, but an ability to observe the objective qualities is a band is a useful tool in defending them against critics.
The End Of All Things To Come isn’t quite a classic album, as I believe L.D.50 to be, but I still consider it an excellent work of musicianship and originality. L.D.50 was a raw, unrestrained display of technical nu metal that marked Mudvayne’s break into the mainstream. Mudvayne has admitted to worrying about trying to compete with their debut, while recording The End Of All Things To Come, or The End as I’ll call it. Perhaps this is why The End has a kind of tight, held back sound to it. This is difficult to describe, but instead of dwelling on its few shortcomings, it’s better that I show what it is I see in The End Of All Things To Come.
The album begins with Silenced
, an obvious stab at censorship. Singer Chad Gray, unlike other nu metal singers, has the gift of above average intelligence. Rather than writing angsty lyrics like, “There’s something in me, let me be free, let me be me," Gray screams an emotional objection to the silencing nature of the FCC in “Middle finger is the flag that I wave when I’m silenced." As well as Gray’s consistent, meaningful lyrics, Silenced also has some of bassist Ryan Martine’s best work. Almost any musician will mention Martine as Mudvayne’s highest talent. I try not to think of Mudvayne as members, but as a collective, but his exceptional talent is undeniable. His playing during the verses of Silenced is especially technical, but his unique style is evident throughout the whole album. Rather than merely complimenting Tribbett’s riffs, or providing low, uninteresting bass lines, Martine always focuses on movement and variety. His playing is funky, but is distinguishably his own, and from the very start of The End, he shows that he will still be one of the highlights of the band.
Definitely not to be overlooked is Matt McDonough. He has always demonstrated speed and general technical skill, but his complex rhythms are what he’s most known for. He has played in odd time signatures and experimented with polyrhythms and continues to do so in Mudvayne’s recent songs. McDonough sheds light upon the very poor world of nu metal drumming. Instead of constant 4/4, downbeat-based beats, he is dedicated to creating something different and interesting, as much as Martine does. On Trapped In The Wake Of A Dream
, he plays in 17/8 for most of the song, as well as 11/8 in one section. When I first began listening to Mudvayne, I was often unable to play along with his tricky transitions between bars and time signatures. Although he is a very skilled, he doesn’t feel the need to show of his ability all the time. McDonough does not have a problem playing fairly simple beats in certain parts, and knows exactly when to go “ape***" as they say, such as 2:30 on Not Falling
I remember reading that Chad Gray feels he screamed too much on L.D.50. I certainly don’t any problem with it, but The End shows a new approach to creating more melodic songs, both musically and lyrically. This is most evident on the songs (Per)version Of A Truth
and Mercy, Severity
. While Mudvayne is now perfectly capable of making melodic but heavy songs, like Fall Into Sleep and All That You Are, their results on The End aren’t so satisfactory. Greg Tribbett’s muted, somewhat dull guitar sound doesn’t quite fit with Gray’s obvious attempt at real melody. On Lost And Found
, Mudvayne went for a more clean, live sound, and this allows them to create focused, melodic songs. The End’s relatively poor production may be held accountable for its flaws, but it’s most likely that Mudvayne hadn’t quite discovered their full capabilities. On the other hand, World So Cold
features some of Gray’s best singing, and Tribbett’s guitar playing seems very emotional, both of which making it one of the best songs on the album.
Some people lump Mudvayne with Gwar, Manson, Slipknot, etc. because of their appearance. I can’t deny that they looked very weird
during their first two albums, but I feel I can genuinely say that they’re not a band based on image. They’re not as elusive and mysterious as Tool, but they’ve conceded that their changing names and appearances are meant to represent each album. They want their fans to think of the albums first, before they think of the members, because the members only appear as extensions of the music. Matt McDonough said in 2003, “I would be weary of attaching any sort of identification with any image you’ve seen of us." It’s no surprise that in accord with Lost And Found’s clean, exposed sound, Mudvayne have shed all their makeup freaky outfits, presenting only themselves.
Mudvayne have also said that their songs usually don’t refer to specific events or people, but that they are meant to be interpreted by the fans. McDonough explains, “It gets a little annoying for bands to think for their audience. It’s arrogant, a short-sight, and it also limits the music, when the music’s all spelled out for you…I think that’s a unfortunate shortcoming with a lot of modern music." I can really see what he’s getting at, as many of The End’s lyrics are vague and mysterious. Skrying
features cryptic lyrics, from which it is difficult to draw conclusions; “Skrying through reflections in a pool, I see death coming, mowing down. Do you remember the bedroom? Was it your cell or was it your tomb."
When I began listening to Mudvayne almost three years ago, I gave little thought to the themes and complexities behind them. I was duped into thinking, like so many others, that The End Of All Things To Come symbolized some kind of apocalyptic destruction. You can hardly blame me, looking at the alien wasteland depicted inside the booklet. What I have learned recently is that The End Of All Things To Come is actually positive, not destructive. It represents doing away with everything that is wrong with us, ending our evils, in order that something new and good can come instead. Chaos and destruction would to be the simplest and most logical inference one might have, given metal’s inherent affiliation with death and destruction. Mudvayne, on the other hand, is just something different, regardless of those who turn them away for being “nu metal." I know I’m not alone when I say I dislike classifications or labels, and I can imagine how much Mudvayne must. Within any biased review, it is likely that the reviewer will attest to how “unique" and “different" a band is. With Mudvayne, I don’t really feel I have to. While The End Of All Things To Come is flawed, it is in my opinion one of the best albums of the genre. I therefore highly recommend it, whether you’re a fan of the genre or not.