Sound — 8
Math metal is often a term that's used to describe Illinois' own milk-fed titans, Mudvayne. It's an accurate assessment, given the highly technical guitar work and drumming that has populated the band's albums since its debut, 2000's Dig. (Although some may dispute that the band's former gimmick of wearing make-up obscured the complex nature of the music!) Mudvayne enjoyed plenty of post-Dig success, due in part to the way that they sprinkle ultra-melodic and singable choruses into the maelstrom of the hard-charging guitars. The New Game finds the patented Mudvayne sound in tact, with plenty of meaty barn-burners like Do What You Do, New Game and Have It Your Way living among introspective, contemplative and mid-tempo tunes like A Cinderella Story or the nearly acoustic Scarlet Letters. Mudvayne manage to toe the line between brains and brawn, attracting mooks who just want to mosh to their music as well as those who like a little more musicianship to their metal. Guitarist Greg Tribbett isn't the second coming of Yngwie J. Malmsteen, simply because he doesn't solo much nor does he go all noodly on our unsuspecting asses. Instead, he breaks off plenty of choppy and chunk riffs and also transforms his axe into an instrument that generates all sorts of layers to Mudvayne's music without ever sacrificing the heaviness or the metallicness.
Lyrics — 7
Frontman Chad Gray, who also does time in Vinnie Paul's most recent post-Pantera project Hell Yeah, is in possession of DNA-distinct vocals. He often emits a bit of a phlegmatic, low-end bellow that's an incredibly successful complement to the music his bandmates crank out. Gray shifts seamlessly between a clean style to a scrappy scream and his deftness in employing both styles gives Mudvayne that radio-friendly element to their music. Risk-taking rock stations in America can take the chance and blast The New Game, Dull Boy, and The Hate in Me after 7 PM because the songs are accessible without being wimpy in order to garner that airplay. It's a fine line and Mudvayne walks it with confidence. As for the lyrics, Gray speaks to his fans at their level, mouthing off about the battles he fights and the shit that pisses him off on a daily basis. Anyone working a minimum wage or thankless job anywhere in the Americas can relate to what Gray's got to say and that makes The New Game the perfect album for testosterone-amped dudes who need something to help them blow off a little steam.
Overall Impression — 8
The 'Vayne exists as a commercially viable hard rock band that never has to blunt its edges in order to appeal to a wider audience. If you're a dude that likes your rock a little surlier and burlier than what most commercial radio stations offer, then The New Game will be just what you are looking for to get the red out.