“We wear the mask that grins and lies / It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes / This debt we pay to human guile / With torn and bleeding hearts we smile.”
It seems that Mudvayne took famed poet Paul Laurence Dunbar‘s words to heart for most of their career. Mention Mudvayne to a self-respecting metaller and they’ll holler “mask” or “alien alter-egos”, such is the striking and frankly bizarre image that this Illinois quartet purveyed with their LD 50 and The End Of All Things To Come albums. Ask for a song title on the other hand and an answer might not be so forthcoming…
And so the artists previously known as Ch�d, G��g, R-�D and Sp�g, previously known as Kud, Gurrg, Ryknow and sPaG, have “done a Kiss“, ditched the make-up and become plain old Chad Grey, Greg Tribbett, Ryan Martinie and Matt McDonough.
Even if this volte-face is the result of the band members wanting to ditch the facade and bare their souls authentically, its indirect publicity has worked wonders. Lost And Found, Mudvayne’s third major label album, is odds-on to enter the US charts in the Top Five, although the less cynical would have to admit that this is as much to do with the radio success of lead single Happy?
The melodic singing and tempered aggression of Happy? (“In this hole that is me, the dead are rolling over” – that’ll be a rhetorical question then) are, in general, misleading indicators for what to expect from Lost And Found.
Opener Determined, for instance, is startling in its brutality, full of razor-sharp, thrashing guitar riffs and vocals that spit defiant venom. In fact, close your eyes, listen to the lyrics (“So f**king determined… You better believe it / Confidence”) and you might be fooled into thinking it’s Far Beyond Driven-era Pantera. And that’s a compliment. Ditto the suicide-baiting IMN.
Elsewhere, the quality level flits from peak to trough like an ocean wave. Fall Into Sleep goes for a big, nu-metallic anthemic chorus and partially succeeds, whereas the prog-rock noodlings in Rain. Sun. Gone and the repeated to ad nauseum “eenie meanie minie moe” and “we don’t have a choice” lines in the eight-minutes of Choices are more than a little irritating.
Forget To Remember lives up to its name before TV Radio lifts things again with its cool opening line (“you incomplete me”) and Nine Inch Nails-meets-Black Metal vocal. Just is solid, polished bludgeon, while All That You Are is also cool, mixing a Red Hot Chili Peppers drum vibe, an aggressive chorus and some interesting tempo changes.
Pulling The String finishes things off and, although it starts with some succulent riffage, it doesn’t quite live up to its early promise. Which is a fair pr�cis of this album, really. Mudvayne may have taken their masks off and retained some of their quirkiness, but their music is still a little faceless from time to time.