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Alien invasion
Mudvayneís extraterrestrial metal
BY SEAN RICHARDSON

Have you seen Mudvayne lately? You know Mudvayne, the metal band with the face paint who won a 2001 MTV Video Music Award for "Dig." Well, theyíve got a new album, The End of All Things To Come (Epic), and a new look that makes them a little tough to recognize. Theyíve traded the face paint for grotesque alien masks, complete with big hollow eyes protruding out of their heads. Theyíve also got new stage names: frontman Matthew McDonough has gone from Kud to Chud, guitarist Greg Tribbett from Gurrg to Guug, bassist Ryan Martinie from Ryan to Ru-D, and drummer Chad Gray from Spag to Spug. On the metal evolutionary scale, going from circus freaks to sci-fi geeks can only be considered progress.

When in 2000 Mudvayne made their major-label debut with L.D. 50 (Epic), it was clear that the Peoria band were more than just refugees from a mosh-pit costume party. They took the album title from a medical term used to measure toxicity, and the twisted heaviness of the disc suggested the groupís interest in controlled substances was less than professional. The unmitigated bile of "Dig" recalled fellow Midwesterners Slipknot, whose M. Shawn Crahan served as the albumís executive producer. "Death Blooms" took the bandís aggression to an even scarier place, adding abrupt mood changes and adventurous tempo shifts to the mix.

When L.D. 50 went gold, fans dubbed Mudvayne the new kings of math metal ó a term that has often been used to describe underground bands like the Dillinger Escape Plan and Candiria but one that rarely applies to mainstream groups. Thereís no doubt it fits Mudvayne: their new single, "Not Falling," may not be up to the technical standards of your average Dillinger slugfest, but it turns on a dime faster than anything else on commercial rock radio. "I/I stand/Not crawling/Not falling down," sings Chud over the songís muscular groove, striking a defiant chord that Godsmack fans will know well. The frontman gets the hook out of his system before he starts screaming, and the band march to the beat of their own extraterrestrial drummer.

If Slipknot were Mudvayneís biggest heroes on L.D. 50, then Tool were a close second. So it makes sense that The End of All Things To Come was produced by David Bottrill, whose work with Tool and King Crimson has made him prog-metalís most sought-after studio guy. Apart from their complicated song structures, Mudvayne donít actually sound much like Tool: they value noise over subtlety, and Chud isnít on Maynard James Keenanís level as a frontman. But like Tool, Mudvayne have a wacky, versatile rhythm section who bring the element of surprise to every song.

The End of All Things To Come gets off to a ferocious start with "Silenced," which takes on censorship with a violent thrash beat that leaves little room for melody. "Middle finger is the flag that I wave when Iím silenced!" screams Chud on the chorus, and the band slyly acknowledge the song title by cutting themselves off mid stride. Itís disaffected sloganeering like this that puts Mudvayne up there with Slipknot as one of commercial metalís most exciting groups. On "Solve et Coagula," Chud invokes every metalheadís favorite element, fire, and the band flatten their prog-rock pretensions with a vicious stampede.

But Mudvayne donít spend the entire album in overdrive. They take it down a notch on the somber power ballad "World So Cold," where Chud croons some of the discís sharpest melodies. When everyone gets restless at the end of the song, the results are thrilling: Spug throws a fit on the drums and Chud follows his lead with a cathartic speed rap that Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor would be proud of.

Like most metal bands of their generation, Mudvayne write ugly, disturbing music about the demons inside their heads. But theyíve also got something to say about the brutality of the world around them, and thatís the perspective that suits them best on The End of All Things To Come. On the title track, they come up with their own plan for world peace, gleefully fantasizing about the apocalypse. "All over with/Fuck all the flags, the greed, the world leaders!" yells Chud on the chorus, and everyone else backs him up with enough heavy artillery to rival Pantera. It might not be the most constructive response to a world ravaged by war, but at least theyíre paying attention. Not bad for a bunch of guys in alien masks.

Issue Date: December 12 - 19, 2002
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