Sound — 7
We're not sure why Epic is pushing the new Mudvayne out at this late stage in the year. Most rock records don't come out the week before Christmas, but whatever the case, Mudvayne's Mudvayne represents the Peoria, Illinois band at its heaviest in years. Beautiful and Strange, 1000 Mile Journey and Scream With Me are dosed with the crunchy riffs and moody guitar tones not seen since the band's 2000 debut, L.D. 50 and it's breakthrough follow-up, 2002's The End of All Things to Come. The band doesn't sacrifice its accessibility and commercially viable song structures but make no mistake; a song like Beautiful and Strange is perfect for those edgy, hard rock stations that aren't afraid to take a risk and play a band like Mudvayne. Lest we forget the band has had a modicum of success at radio over the years and that is one of their strengths. But the rough parts have not been blunted. The band's technical proficiency also remains firmly and fully in tact. The album opens with an eyebrow raising series of noises and it nabs your attention. The ensuing songs hold it. Heard it All Before is thunderous and gloomy all at once. Overall, Mudvayne is probably the most guitar-driven of all the Mudvayne platters and the band has always been pretty friggin' guitar driven. The just up the ante on this self-titled affair.
Lyrics — 8
Chad Gray's vocals always have a note of vitriol to them, whether he's singing melodically or gruffly. He's got a DNA distinct set of pipes and he doesn't tackle goes-down-easy topics on the album. He talks about dying, laying down in graves and sucking on a shutgun and tasting the barrel of a gauge on Scream With Me, which could eventually become the band's anthem for disaffected youth or even the confused post-collegiates. You can just hear the crowd singing Stand in the closet and scream with me with Gray at every show that the band performs this song during. It's a dark, scary little number with an ominous nature. It's a nice balance that Gray is able to strike; his work in Hell Yeah is much less serious and looser. Here, he doesn't hold back the demons and unleashes them atop heady riffery. The combination works. Album closer Dead Inside, which starts out acoustically, is a powerful way to close an album that is anything but uplifting. Gray sings his heart out, ripping a page out of the book of the inimitable Corey Taylor of Slipknot/Stone Sour fame. What's most applaudable is Gray's lack of fear at exposing the roots of his emotions. On Mudvayne, you'll feel like you really know him.
Overall Impression — 8
Mudvayne represents growth for the platinum-selling band. It harkens back to their alternatingly humble and successful beginnings and delivers an emotional wallop that affects the listener more deeply than it ever has. Kudos to Mudvayne for laying the cards up on the table on such a chunky, masterfully metal album.