Category Archives: Nu Metal

Mushroomhead – Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children [Review]

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.

mushroomhead beautiful stories for ugly children

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

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The New Game – Mudvayne [Review]

The New Game is the fourth studio release from Nu/Alt. Metal band Mudvayne, released November 18, 2008 on Epic records.

Mudvayne the New Game

My first impression of this album is: clone of Lost and Found

Anything that could be said about Lost and Found can be pretty much said about this album. The only difference is that they seemed to get it right this time, as opposed to the pile of heaping feces that was Lost and Found. This does not by any means that it’s good, but it’s better. This is still a million miles behind L.D. 50 and The End of All Things to Come, but, I’ll break it down for you.

The best part of this album is that Mudvayne seemed to remember what groove and heaviness were on this album. Granted, they don’t use it to the full effect that they once did, but at least they got me a bit interested on the track “Have it Your Way” – though I am a bit ashamed to admit it. As always, Ryan Martinie is spot-on in his bass work. It’s a deep and technical as ever, but it doesn’t have the push, drive, or intensity it should. In fact, almost nothing has that raw energy that Mudvayne once possessed. There’s a little bit in the song “The Hate In Me” that reminds me of what this band is capable of, and what they should be doing. There are a few glimpses throughout the album, making me hate this album because they’re holding back (at least that’s what it sounds like).

Now, for the worst part of the album is the songwriting. It’s just plain boring. Unless you’re going to write something truly good, you can’t get away with plain songwriting. The only song on the album I exempt from this is “Dull Boy” – the lyrics aren’t so good, but this song is a good song. Actually, the lyrics are absolutely terrible. Like most of the other songs on the album. The groove in this song just past the opening vocals is plain dirty (in a good way).

This album simply sounds like they are underachieving, just as it did on Lost and Found. Maybe the second full album they have been quoted as saying will be released sixth months after this one will be better, but I do not have my hopes up. After all, I have little to nothing to say good about their last two releases. Oh well. Just another band I liked in the 90’s to suck now.

Track Picks: “Fish out of Water”

Overall score: 3/10 devil horns

Slipknot – All Hope Is Gone [Review]

All Hope Is Gone is the fifth studio from Des Moines, Iowa band Slipknot. Release date is August 26, 2008 in North America.

Slipknot All Hope Is Gone

“It’s going to rip your face off,” Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor tells Billboard.com with confidence. “I don’t think the world will be ready for this album.”

With confidence, I must say, he’s right. This is by far their most brutal album to date, and easily their most metal. They’re beginning to differentiate themselves from the rest of the dying “Nu Metal” breed.

One thing that seems to turn most metalheads off of Slipknot is their lack of: blast beats, blistering guitar work, and constant/extended double bass drum machine gun riffs. Well, guess what, guys, they’re here. Slipknot show off their technical skill and mettle with this album far more than ever before (excluding the masterpiece Mate.Feed.Kill.Repeat with the original lineup). Overall, the music has not changed in overall sound, it’s as brutal as ever, but they’ve added more “musical” elements. When I heard the first guitar solo on this album I was shocked to say the least. Slipknot with some fancy-pants guitar work? Hell, I never thought I would hear it, but it works, and works well.

There are people that would say that Joey Jordison is the best percussionist around. While this is obviously not true [see: Thomas Haake, Morgan Ågren, Neil Peart, etc.] he at least puts up a fantastic showing compared to previous efforts. More pounding on the kick drums, more polyrhythms, and some brutal breakdowns. He’s got a ways to go until he can show us he really is of the best, but still incredibly talented none-the-less. A fresh take with the new cymbal usage (not only Jordison, but the Fehn and Crahan as well) certainly does not help with the new and improved percussion section.

The songwriting hasn’t changed at all really from Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses). The lyrics have become slightly more mature, but not a whole lot. It is still dealing with very similar issues as in previous albums, but are now phrased in a more global, aware, mature manner. Aside from the new additions to their repertoire (the aforementioned guitar solos and drum work) the album sounds an awfully lot like Iowa with glimpses of things they used in their self titled release.

From song to song the mood swings quite dramatically. Ranging from brutal and angry to optimistic, it is far more open than anything Slipknot has done. Some examples of some outside-the-box thinking compared to the Slipknot of old would be the chorus to both “Wherein Lies Continue” and “Psychosocial”, both having very optimistic, positive sounds and messages, even while being imbedded in some of the most brutal stuff that Slipknot has ever produced.

The album is not very cohesive, but it works. For most albums, when it is not very cohesive it becomes a listening challenge. With All Hope Is Gone there is enough interest from song to song to keep you listening, and the jump from song to song can be fairly abrupt (building a lot of tension), which works with the feeling of the album. Towards the end of the album, you get the soft, ballad-like tune “Snuff” which is this album’s equivalent of “Vermillion Pt. 2” in my opinion. Following that track is “All Hope Is Gone”, which is a straight-up, balls-to-the-wall metal song. It pounds your face in beginning to end, and is a great final track for the album.

All in all, I really enjoyed the album, being a big fan of Slipknot before and felt that they would do well with more solos and machine-gun drumming. Admittedly, the album is not spectacular. It’s good, but not great. Any Slipknot fan of old should really dig it, and they will most likely gain a few new fans from it.

Track picks:
“All Hope Is Gone”
“Gematria (The Killing Name)”
“Sulfur”

Overall score = 7.5/10 devil horns

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