Review Summary: Mushroomhead offer the beauty, the aggression, and even subtlety which are all packed up for M3.
We all succumb to nightmares within our basic lives. They can normally range from unpleasant experiences to beastly encounters which might have a chance of physically harming one's well-being. Often their purposes are to challenge and intimidate you, and for all but good reasons. If the horror underlying these bad events represent the dark side of a specimen, then the normal, happy-go-lucky (if vapid) dreams exist to strengthen a person's heroic side. Similarly to the nightmare stated above, its antithesis is a varied quest which revolves around the likes of fond memories or even vivid, albeit wacky adventures which can very well be the epitome of an automaton taking its first batch of acid. Now, as Greek and nonsensical as this all may seem to the typical personage, it DOES have meaning to it. "How do the two suddenly intertwine," you are wondering? Well if you realize it long enough, sometimes even nightmares tend to be expressive and thorough, almost to the point of elegance starting to become crafted... and this is where Mushroomhead
enters the scenario.
Hailing from the bleak, almost forceful side of Ohio, Mushroomhead is a metal band who formed in 1993. Known for their avant-garde sound - which blends elements of art rock, electro industrial, punk rock, heavy metal, and the like together - and their imagery consisting of masks and costumes, the band is unaware of the phrase 'slowing down'. While it's true they've undergone a number of line-up changes and - to an extent - dished out a weak record or two, this eight-piece group is not ready to submit at the very moment. When your band has released a total of eight full-length albums within your career so far, you know the soul and the bonds are unbreakable. However, if one is already in the know regarding Mushroomhead, then perhaps the figure has yet to be accustomed to the efforts prior to the outfit's 2003 offering XIII
. As a matter of fact, these folks put out three CDs when they were initially an independent act, with one of said releases - entitled M3
- being marked as the third album in a row for Mushroomhead.
Issued on March 9, 1999 and featuring 10 tracks alongside a hidden 'song', M3
is not your average behemoth that is bent on suffocating its target demographic; let alone the record's share of detractors. This album instead has various goals in mind, some of which are almost impossible to take on. The studio album has the urge to question its humanity and others, and is a bit unsure of its real identity. Therefore, the CD and Mushroomhead do whatever is necessary to seek out the truth which lies beyond conflict and belated emotions. Each song off M3
is akin to a journey which connects to the stories that I may or may not be pulling out of my narcissism-driven butthole. Most of the tracks possess distinctive traits whilst still bearing Mushroomhead's signature style. "Xeroxed" and "Born of Desire" are complimented via a great deal of heaviness, all while "The New Cult King" and "The Final Act" possess more of a melodic nature thanks to a guest appearance by Scott Edgell. The album is even fond of the tunes which normally keep their feet on middle ground such as the popular "Solitaire/Unraveling" and the haunting stench of "Inevitable"; the latter features a sample of Stephen King's miniseries Storm of the Century
This record's instrumentation gives off a predominantly unique, fresh vibe. Barring the exception of drummer Steve "Skinny" Felton (bless his talented soul), no one is left out on M3
, for the bandmates often contribute to some of this album's best moments. Vocalists Jeffrey Nothing and Jason "J Mann" Popson are among the members of Mushroomhead who really shine throughout, as Jeffrey's melancholic, if preacher-esque voice and J Mann's harsh-sounding, passionate vocals sound one another incredibly well; an example of this being the aforementioned "Solitaire/Unraveling" and "Conflict - The Arguement Goes On". Tom "Schmotz" Schmitz's keyboard effects are atmospheric and never reek of exhaustion, further helping out with Mushroomhead when they require the assistance most. This is all too prevalent on "Beauteous," a track which - as its title suggests - is surrounded by a beautiful, if vintage-like piano piece for the song's entirety. As for the guitar work, John "J.J. Righteous" Sekula (R.I.P) and Richie "Dinner" Moore do more than hang around, as they assault you with riffs and chords galore, especially with the innovative brutality of "Exploiting Your Weakness" and "Before I Die".
There are two flaws which envelop the album here and there. First and foremost, the production quality utilized to dip the material into is quite inconsistent. While many of the songs benefit from the feel of it, there are also specific ones such as "Xeroxed," where the recording process which went into M3
sort of falls flat on its disguised face. Secondly, after "Born of Desire"'s conclusion to be exact, a heinous amount of silence takes up the mantle leading to the hidden bonus track in the form of "Dark and Evil Joe" - a number with a slightly entertaining prank call section, and nothing else in the least. Even if these two roadblocks try to hamper with the album, Mushroomhead's third effort is still a mostly glorious feat.
No matter how you look at the record, though, Mushroomhead's M3
is still chock full of stunning material. It sure as Hell isn't perfect nor flawless, but the album is a must for long-time fanatics. And if you're a listener who is starting to get into the band - casual or otherwise - then this is a release highly recommended. Equipped with graceful electronics, soaking melodies, and skillful brutality, M3
makes for a rather intriguing record that does no harm.
Exploiting Your Weakness