Monday, 13 July 2020

Mushroomhead "XX" (2001)

With a new album released, I though I'd hear the group out and see where they are at these days. I've always been fond of Mushroomhead but mainly for this record alone. XX is their major label debut but also a collection of remastered songs from their first three independently released albums. As another masked Metal band emerging in the Nu Metal era, they are often unfairly cited as a Slipknot clone or rip off, despite being musically different and predating them on both record and in dress.

Often lumped into Metals most contentious category, Mushroomhead are actually more unique than credited for. Industrial, Alternative and Groove strains of Metal influence their dystopian sound with strong syncopation elements being the closest resemblance to Nu Metal, yet they carry none of the tropes. Best of all their keyboards deploy classic tones, bright beaming pianos and symphonic strings are a prominent and contrasting feature, often joining in the syncopation. More often than not they are the touche delivering the memorable and quirky melodies that set these songs aside.

A lot of Mushroomhead's music is not immediately gratifying, they have the mosh friendly stomping tracks with big grooves but often their songs are about atmosphere and tension. Steadily unfolding moods are birthed from chugging guitars of industrial weight and intention, while drawn out guitar chords and subtle synths set a slow and moody tone for the two singers to exchange on the stage. Not always looking for a crescendo or conclusion these numbers make for a great slow burn experience.

When they do ramp up the intensity in a metallic direction, the dystopian mix of clean synths and dirty, gritty aggression is a persuading one. These tend to be the more memorable songs for obvious reasons. XX is a record I've enjoyed for decades and Is worth a listen for its unique chemistry alone. This band where never able to capture my interest with anything else they did but I've got their newest record to give a try but almost twenty years on I'm not sure much of this era will remain.

Favorite Tracks: Before I Die, Solitaire Unraveling, Xeroxed, The Wrist, The New Cult King, Born Of Desire, 43, Bwomp 2
Rating: 8/10