Review Summary: The New Game marks the return of Mudvayne, and while the album is nothing we haven't heard before, is likely to please fans of the band's newer sound. Although, it must be said that the band is dangerously close to completely stagnating.
A band can invoke pure hate by the mere mention of its name. Whether the hate is founded or not, bias is always present thanks to endless genre labels. Mudvayne has always been lumped in the nu-metal category and for good reason. People can argue that LD 50
was somewhat math metal but that is very debatable. the subsequent albums since their debut have all been very much rooted in nu-metal, albeit in the upper echelon. Something has to be said for the band's ability to stay together for the ten years of existence, unlike many of their new metal contemporaries. The core has stuck together, even with the distractions of the fall of nu-metal and the terrible idea that was Hellyeah. This album, however seems very much like a rehashing of previous material and does nothing to make anyone wish for nu-metal to relinquish its "glory" days.
The band's bright spots, the bass and drumming, are still as good as ever. The bass lines of Ryan Martinie are as good as they have ever been and Matthew McDonough shows once again why he should be in a real metal band, where he could truly show off his talents. Greg Tribbet once again is serviceable, and keeps up the furious pace set by McDonough and Martinie. Only a couple of solos are heard on the album, none of which will amaze you. Many band's rhythm section is relegated to the background, with the bass almost inaudible, however Mudvayne learned early on that their rhythm section is the band's strength. As such, they are more featured than most in metal. Every song succeeds or fails due to the work of front man Chad Gray. His voice is unique and also alternately annoying and superb. When lightly singing, his voice is rather whiny, but not high pitched on the whole; it is more of a tinge in his singing style. His voice is better when he sings with more edge to his voice. His strength has always been in his ability to toe the singing and screaming line. His actual screaming is not varied and rather standard.
The album itself is hindered with very pedestrian songwriting and a tendency to fall into the old habits, in terms of their guitar parts and the overall sound of the album. It sounds too much like their previous album Lost and Found
with not enough progression. There are few standout tracks as well, as the album tends to bleed together and differentiating between the songs when simply listening becomes hard. There are only small differences in the songs to let you know that the track has even changed. The usual verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus is used on every song, and the songs themselves tend to hover around or just below the four minute mark, with the exceptions being “A New Game,” “A Cinderella Story,” and “Same Ol"”
Mudvayne stronger tracks are the heavier tracks. “Fish Out of Water” punches you in the face at the outset, with the other strong heavy tracks being the aforementioned “A New Game” and “We The People,” which is plagued by stupid lyrics. It also needs mentioning that the lyrics are fairly average throughout the album, not helping or hindering any songs save for a few spots; they are just there.
The rest of the album is fairly mid-paced with the exception being the ballad “Never Enough” which is surprisingly a stronger track on the album, yet has very misplaced screaming in the bridge. Chad Gray’s voice carries the same throughout, and keeps the album above most similar nu-metal ballads. There are no true bad tracks on the album, and there are also trace influences of metal core here and there, but you only notice them in passing. The strongest of the mid-paced songs, and best song on the album, is “Have it Your Way,” which is very much akin to “Happy"” off of Lost and Found
both in catchy melodies and powerful vocals from Chad Gray. The one large gripe I have with the album is the presence of “Dull Boy,” which was on the live and demo album By the People, For the People
. The band said that this song would not be on the album, which I was very pleased about as it is a terrible song, and it brings down the already average second half of the album. There is no way that a song left on the cutting room floor could not have beat this song out on the album, or the band even could have just made the album ten tracks. It is by far the worst song on the album and has no redeeming values to it
All in all, a fairly middle of the road album that will do nothing to turn away fans of Lost and Found
and will continue to piss of people wishing of another LD 50
. This is not a misstep for Mudvayne, but it is also not a step forward. The presence of strong tracks “Have it Your Way” and “A New Game” keep this album from being terribly mediocre. This album does nothing to change the band’s image or that of the now mostly dead nu-metal genre, but is likely to sell albums and put Mudvayne on the shortlist to headline Rockstar Mayhem next year.