NEW YORK — Vocalist Chüd lumbered onstage covered in blood. His gore-spattered coat made him look like he had been mauled by a grizzly bear. Torn flesh and muscle tissue burst through the sleeves and torso and bones jutted from the outfit at grotesque angles. The macabre spectacle was enhanced by clownish makeup and a black bowler hat.
Some members of Friday night's crowd at the World might have expected Chüd and his bandmates to be dressed as space aliens, as in the promotional photos for their upcoming record, The End of All Things to Come, and that's very likely why they went another route. Mudvayne can never be accused of being conformists.
Guitarist Güüg, his face painted silver, wore futuristic super-thick black glasses and black clothes, bassist Rü-D was bare-chested and adorned in a papier-mache mask that looked like a crumpled paper bag and drummer Spüg lurked behind his monstrous kit, face hidden by white paint that made him look like a cross between Freddy Kreuger and a demented mime (Click for recent photos of Mudvayne live).
The band played with an intensity that matched its look. Mudvayne opened the show with the clamorous title track from The End of All Things to Come, and immediately proved their mettle (and metal) with bludgeoning stop-start rhythms, chainsaw guitar excavations and brutal death metal growls. The track was one of just four from the new album. The rest of the set was culled from their 2000 LP, L.D. 50, and included the lurching, angular "Internal Primates Forever," the brooding "-1" and the propulsive, melody-tinged "Death Blooms."
Right before Mudvayne tore into their current single, "Not Falling," Rü-D ripped off his mask and threw it into the crowd. With his clean-shaven head, bulging eyes and abrupt, rapid neck movements, he looked like a creature from Clive Barker's "Hellraiser." Chüd was also commanding, and as he sang he stomped and hunched over, exhaling his anger and torment into the mic.
Highlights of the set included the cacophonic "Under My Skin," which featured tumbling drums, guitars that wailed like sirens, and an apocalyptic rap, and "Prod," which clattered, clanged and mechanically surged like a robot from a Tool video. Of the new cuts, "Silenced" was filled with rapid-fire volleys of noise and tense pregnant pauses, and "Mercy, Severity" was colored with muted riffing, near-jazz phrasing and such melodic vocal lines as, "I can save you if you leave it all behind" and "Mother, I can remember a fault of security/ Would you take me away?"
Brutal and technically complex as Mudvayne are, the band's hooks and lyrics can still cut to the emotional core or at least the cerebral cortex. Chüd introduced "Nothing to Gein," a song named after murderer Ed Gein, by talking about how people are often a product of their upbringing and how "a sheltered life is no life at all." And before starting "Cradle," a poignant, visceral song about domestic abuse, he growled, "This is a song about dear old dad."
The tune, filled with harrowing screams, scorching guitars and jackhammer beats, was the last of Mudvayne's regular set. The only completely predictable move they made all night came when they returned for their encore with "Dig," the single from L.D. 50 that launched it all. Even two years and hundreds of performances later, the tune is as abrasive and unrelenting as when they first played it.
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