Review Summary: Within Mudvayne's debut "L.D. 50" there lies a portion of pure gold, as well as some deposits of silver and bronze.
The typical Big-Hit/Big-Miss metal band debuts with an album much like Mudvayne’s L.D. 50. This is a record that is undoubtedly a little more than a bit unbalanced, but not quite at the critical level, which is what sent it under the radar from those weeding out “Excellent” material. L.D. 50 is a record put together by some fresh components, including a brutal heaviness unheard of by any band before, strong use of complex time signatures, a bigger focus on the rhythm section than most of their peers, and an interesting tendency to sway from somber and bitter to absolutely furious in the blink of an eye.
For the first half of the album, there is so much to praise and very little to complain about. After the ambient introduction “Monolith,” the listener is thrown into “Dig,” a quick onslaught of pummeling drums, grooving slap-bass, grinding guitars, and an enraged delivery from Chad Gray that sees next to no stop for rest. The track is an incredibly welcoming invitation to listen to the rest of the album. Next is “Internal Primates Forever,” a song that is noticeably longer and more technical than “Dig.” The bass and drums of Ryan Martinie and Matt McDonogh ride on intricate rhythms, while Greg Tribett lends ever-so-sinister guitar melodies alongside Chad Grays maniacal howling and shrieking. “-1” tones things down for its beautifully agonizing verse and turns the dial right back to brutally-heavy upon the arrival of its bi-polar chorus. The epic “Cradle” creeps in with soft singing from Gray and a timid guitar riff a` la Tribbett, and escalates quickly into a barrage of multiple grooves that flow together smoothly; showcasing that these guys have a mastery of the groove-metal art. Late-entry “Under My Skin” is another One-Two puncher that goes fast and pummels with a consistency almost equal to that of “Dig.”
With this deposit of tracks that almost completely blow all of their competitors out of the water, it would seem like L.D. 50 could be one of the best nu-metal albums written, but that would be too good to be true for a debut from these at-the-time rookies. More directly, there are a considerable amount of moments that are over-the-top, as well as times where it seems like the band has run out of steam. While “Death Blooms” contains some elaborate melodies, its drastic time-signature shift in the middle of the song completely breaks any mood attempting to be achieved. “Nothing To Gein” maintains the high degree of savagery that the better tracks set, but the “Wacky” (for lack of a better word) change during its verse from bludgeoning ranting and thundering guitars, to awkward bass-plucking and groaning singing is a definite deal-breaker. Not that either part is better than the other, but they do not work in sync well at all. “Everything and Nothing” is solid, but its tune is very cliche` and doesn’t escape the question of “Where have I heard this before?” “Severed” is among the most unsettling of moments on the record, dragging at a mid-tempo pace much slower than 90% of the album, a length of 6:30, and featuring very little cohesion between its different segments.
The drought continues for two more tracks before the boys find any sign of freshwater. “Prod,” is as plain-jane as nu-metal cuts come, and “Pharmaecopia” lacks any sense of a hook while alienating the listener with the bland melodies it does offer. As mentioned before, “Under My Skin” is a highly redeeming cut, and closer “(K)now F(orever)” possesses a wonderfully seductive atmosphere through its many sections and seven minute length.
L.D. 50 overall, is unlike any record before it. It introduces the nu-metal audience to a new level of heaviness while simultaneously polishing its shell with technical mastery. There is plenty of evidence on here that proves Mudvayne is capable of great things, but to run with the ranks of the greatest, they need to invigorate their weaker tracks with the creative energy that fuels their true gems.
"including a brutal heaviness unheard of by any band before"
yeah, not really
otherwise the review was pretty good and well written, but I disagree. Only real problem I see with this album is it's length, but that just means more amazing content so. Also, this is kind of a quasi-track by track diguised as a normal review, and for that reason I think you could have at least expanded upon some of the criticisms a little more. At some points you make statements such as;
"“Prod,” is as plain-jane as nu-metal cuts come"
And you leave it at that. Thats not an argument, that's an opinion, and we're all entitled to them but for a review you need to back it up and/or explain what you say.
"“Everything and Nothing” is solid, but its tune is very cliche` and doesn’t escape the question of “Where have I heard this before?”
again, what makes the song cliche? Is it a genre thing or lyrics or songwriting etc.
It think your writing is good and the ideas are there, but you should definitely expand on your arguments. Also, props for writing this and not just adding another 4 or above review to the pile, it's good to reveal some of the negative points in any album.
To this day, L.D. 50 remains one of my all-time favorite works of American metal. The math-based riffs in this CD tear so much face it's ridiculous. This is also the only truly outstanding work in Mudvayne's catalogue. After this, with a few specific exceptions like "Mercy, Severity," Chad became a whiny emo loser and I completely gave up on them by the time "Happy" made its radio debut.
Come on, "Severed" and "Prod"? Severed just seems like a collage of different riffs thrown together with little to no transition between parts. Prod's verse has a single note riff and repetitive lyrics "something something inside us...something something inside us" and the stop-go manner of the chorus doesn't do anything for me.