Review Summary: Finding the strength and creativity to start all over again.
Mudvayne fans want a Mudvayne reunion.
Mudvayne fans hate Hellyeah.
Mudvayne guitarist leaves Hellyeah.
Mudvayne fans get excited over possible Mudvayne reunion.
Hellyeah recruit new guitarist.
Hellyeah set to release album number five.
Mudvayne guitarist recruits Mudvayne drummer.
Mudvayne fans raise eyebrows.
Audiotopsy is created.
Mudvayne fans cry.
Should the Mudvayne fans be crying" Or should they be excited that for the most part Greg Tribbett seems to be embracing his ‘quirky’ creative side again and forging forward with a band that is somewhat created in the image of Mudvayne"
Audiotopsy are two parts Mudvayne, guitarist Greg Tribbett and drummer Mat Macdonough. One part Skrape with vocalist Billy Keeton and bass player Perry Stern. Their formation was announced early 2015 with the debut album Natural Causes released October 2015 to relative obscurity.
The first track, “Headshot,” is already a fan favourite from its first appearance on Soundcloud, and I can understand why. Keeton’s grungy aesthetic is effective, especially in the opening lines “Now that we rode this far, they know just who we are.” Those lyrics alone already lay the foundation for a universal umbrella theme: struggle is followed by perseverance, which results in growth and maturity. The vocals are appropriately raspy and torn in conveying the singer’s walks of life, and are accentuated by slight tinges of reverb. I admire how he effortlessly shifts between enharmonic and clean singing. Once he hits a scream, he knows exactly when to back off before becoming too grating.
The instrumentation emits an industrial feel which is the ideal backdrop for a warzone setting. “All We Know” is a solid follow-up that expands upon that subject matter. In this song, Keeton expresses being deterred by the seemingly formulaic tribulations of danger, and compares it to being on a TV show. There was surprising comfort in how his voice guided me through these hardships. Likewise, the following track “LYLAB” focuses on a similar loss of sensation, and features that same level of encouragement. The bluesy-turned-nu metal riff is a fantastic setup. Usually when I hear a nu-metal song with profanity in the title, the delivery comes off as unconvincing
As I got to the latter part of the album, I took further note of its down-to-earth thematic interpretations. The ballad “Swim” is one of the more inspirational songs, which deals with finding the space to heal one’s soul. This is one of the least metal songs on the album, which is by no means a flaw as I was ready for a change of pace. There is a much greater focus on melody, still with a great deal of rocking distortion. Keeton’s voice really shines here especially when enhanced with chorus and reverb effects. The background harmonies during the intro and chorus bring the track to another level, as they sit comfortably in the mix.
“Disguise Your Devils” has a sympathetic quality in that does not directly pertain to the ramifications of sinful actions. Rather, it addresses the crippling effects of depression, specifically the kind that influence a defeatist attitude. Having been a victim myself, I would struggle to not be discouraged from achieving my goals. When Keeton sang “You missed the call, and the message is dead” during the bridge, it was a perfect means of expressing failure in pursuing an opportunity. A second chorus intensifies the song with additional orchestral instrumentation, which really drove it home.
The final track, “Frozen Scars,” views these wounds from not only a negative, but a positive perspective as well. While they may numb one’s outlook on life, they are also a crucial factor to their emotional growth. The song features a fine balance of dreamy and distorted guitars, the only real metal influence being the bridge. It is the longest and most involved track each component of instrumentation having its moments to shine and brings the album to a satisfying close.
Overall, Natural Causes is an undeniably impressive debut from a band whose members have lived and breathed life. This was the first time in a while that I heard a metal album with distinctly positive intentions. It positions itself right at the level of the listener, addressing complex behaviours in an accessible manner that never seems trite or dismissive. Fans of Mudvayne and Skrape will truly feel the force of Audiotopsy’s transition to full-length territory.