Review Summary: Mainstream Mudvayne: Not as bad as you'd think
Contrary to popular belief, Mudvayne did
release more albums after L.D. 50
. Mudvayne is unfairly treated as a one-album-wonder band, but as fantastically groundbreaking as L.D. 50
was, their subsequent releases have almost as much ferocity and replay value if given the light of day.
Lost and Found
is infamous for being the period when Mudvayne dropped their face-paint shtick and went mainstream, which isn’t entirely inaccurate. Lead single ‘Happy?’ is undeniably catchy and managed to reach number 1 on the U.S. mainstream rock charts. ‘Fall into Sleep’ and ‘Forget to Remember’ are just as infectious, charting at 4 and 8 respectively, melding together guitarist Greg Tribbett’s newfound love for melodic clean passages with heavy, memorable choruses.
Despite these “sell out” tracks, Mudvayne still have some angst within, shown right off the bat with opener ‘Determined’ – it’s two-and-a-half minutes of relentless, abrasive riffs and fierce screams, not unlike ‘Dig’ from L.D. 50
. ‘IMN’ is another hard-hitter about suicide. After an ambient intro, it proceeds to kick you in the face repeatedly with angry riffs and vocals, a brutal chorus, and the most impressive bass work on the album, before fading out with some meaty math metal-y chugs, including a lovely call-and-response between the guitar and double bass pedals. The 8-minute long ‘Choices’ is an undeniable highlight, featuring some of Chad Gray’s best singing on the album, with its only drawback being the pointless chipmunk-sounding “eenie meanie minie mo”s repeated throughout the verses. As soon as the hypnotic bridge comes in, though, the song more than redeems itself. For a slight change of pace, the penultimate track ‘All That You Are’ is essentially a metal ballad – soothing yet angsty in all the right ways – smartly juxtaposed between two of the album’s most aggressive cuts, ‘Just’ and ‘Pulling the String’. ‘Just’ at its core is a standard “fuck this, fuck you” Mudvayne song, but Ryan Martinie’s bass pops give it enough flair to make it stand out from the rest, and ‘Pulling the String’ contains some of the loudest, tastefully discordant riffs on the album, serving as an effective closer.
When Mudvayne try to experiment, unfortunately, is when things go horribly wrong. ‘TV Radio’ begins with three contrasting ideas within the first 10 seconds alone. It tries to coalesce a melodic passage with a dissonant one; unfortunately, they don’t gel together, creating a disjointed mess of a song before it even gets going. Furthermore, the almost-decent chorus is ruined by Chad’s nasally yelling: “I don’t wanna be, wanna wanna be, I don’t wanna be here, wanna wanna be here so let’s go!” Mudvayne have never been known for poignant lyrical content, but there’s no excuse for repeating the word “wanna” six times in each chorus, for a grand total of 45 times in the entire song. ‘Rain. Sun. Gone.’ is similar in that it contains far too many ideas for its own good. Despite the final riff leading flawlessly into the album centerpiece ‘Choices’, it’s a weak and forgettable standalone track that fails to go anywhere until about halfway through, and by then it’s sadly too little too late.
Lost and Found
is very much a rhythmic album, as one would expect from Mudvayne. Drummer Matt McDonough and bassist Ryan Martinie are still the bread and butter of the band, although their talents are far more subdued here than on previous releases. Instead, all members are given a chance to shine in their own respective ways. Tribbett’s guitar playing is becoming noticeably more versatile as shown by his contrast of soothing melody and sharp dissonance, and Gray hadn’t lost his edge yet so there are plenty of vocal highlights to be found. It’s hard to deny that Lost and Found
was the album that pushed Mudvayne into mainstream territory. Even though the album has its questionable (and flat out bad) moments, Lost and Found
shows that streamlining their sound wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Fall into Sleep