Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children is the seventh studio album from Ohioan nu metal troop Mushroomhead. Released on the behemoth Megaforce Records on September 28, 2010.
Back when I was a wee lad in middle school, I was what you might call a “fan” of Nu Metal, which included bands like Mushroomhead, Korn, etc. As my tastes grew from Nu Metal, Mushroomhead was one of the few bands I would still put on from time to time. “Solitaire Unraveling” remains one of the coolest songs to come out of the nu metal era. Other songs, such as “Bwomp,” also had their own unique charm (though, may have featured some cliché rap vocals courtesy of J Mann). Come 2010, and Mushroomhead seem to have misplaced their “creative” and “interesting” genes, and have come out with a record that’s almost entirely devoid of life.
There are glimpses of things that made Mushroomhead an interesting band littered about Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children, but seemingly none of these ideas are explored to their full extent. Instead, these great ideas are pushed aside for the increasingly stale chug riffs and monotone shouts from Jeffrey Nothing. The swooning and creepy cadence in Jeffrey Nothing’s voice is all but gone. He certainly hits his notes, has decent power behind his voice, and has varied his vocal style a bit – all good things, but they don’t quite make up for the missing element from his older style.
The second element that’s really missing on Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children are guitar riffs and grooves. Even up through Savior Sorrow there was some solid guitar work from the Mushroomhead camp, at the very least, guitar work that could hold your attention. There’s a solo in “Your Demise” but it feels a bit forced and out of place. Right after that you get “Darker Days” which provides the first real look at a riff on the album – and it’s not a particularly promising one.
All in all, this album feels and sounds like a shell of what the band once was. While I often welcome evolution as a band, it’s hard to approve of it when it removes the most interesting parts of a band’s style. Die hard fans may still like this record, but for anyone with less than an obsessive love for the band should look elsewhere. It would be hard to believe that this album was worked on for the entire four years since Savior Sorrow was released.
Track picks: “Burn Bridges” and “Harvest the Garden”
Overall score: 3/10 guys in masks