In psychological terms, masks are symbols of things we wish to become or want to avoid, so it's likely that Mudvayne's new alien masks signal the band taking on a new set of traits.
Of course, this premise would be mere psychobabble if the band's upcoming The End of All Things to Come (November 19) wasn't so dramatically different than L.D. 50 (2000).
If the propulsive surge of their current single, "Not Falling," doesn't prove this isn't the same band that once primitively shouted, "White knuckles grip, pushing through for the gold/ If you're wantin' a piece of me, I broke the motherf---in' mold" on "Dig," then the melodic vocal harmonies that saturate the disc should provide enough evidence.
The End of All Things to Come is a speedy, futuristic ride through a variety of dangerous apocalyptic landscapes. The songs are worlds away from the raw, ragged dissonance of the band's debut, assaulting the senses with a broad range of riffs, tempos, moods and vocal styles.
"Silenced" starts the album with a deafening blast of stop-start guitar volleys, rubbery brooding bass and sinewy pounding drums, sounding alternately like Voivod, System of a Down, Pantera and especially Tool, who seem to have been a major influence for vocalist Chüd, guitarist Güüg, bassist Rü-D and drummer Spüg. Not coincidentally, The End of All Things to Come was produced by Tool confidante David Bottril.
Throughout the album, Mudvayne draw from a bag of styles, including death metal, prog rock, jazz metal and harmony-filled classic rock. On "Skyring," for example, the band enters an aural vortex of syncopated beats and spiraling wah-wah guitar, then builds the tension with tortured vocals and haunting falsetto. When the violent attack abruptly ends, the band drifts off in an ethereal domain as dreamy and gauzy as Pink Floyd.
Mudvayne know the value of exhibiting an ounce of restraint before lowering the boom, and the band keeps listeners on their toes by embellishing songs with pregnant pauses, surreal effects and unexpected about-faces.
Throughout the record, Mudvayne bounce between sedentary depression and paranoid rage, frequently reaching a middle ground of neurotic insecurity. On "Shadow of a Man," Chüd moans, "Mirror, mirror, up on the wall/ I'm asking you who's the most confused of them all," before howling, "Mirror, mirror, subservient twin screams back at me/ 'You, you sick, flawless mind. I wanna break you!' "
Track list for The End of All Things to Come, according to Epic Records:
- "Trapped in the Wake of a Dream"
- "Not Falling"
- "(Per) Version of a Truth"
- "Mercy, Severity"
- "A World So Cold"
- "The Patient Mental"
- "Solve Et Coagula"
- "Shadow of a Man"
- "The End of All Things to Come"
- "A Key to Nothing"