Mudvayne's latest continues more melodic trend

CD Review
February 26, 2010 3:22:06 AM PST
Mudvayne fans who've spent the last three years holding out hope that the band's latest release would be a return to the style of the group's fierce debut, 2000's "L.D. 50," are probably going to be a little disappointed with "The New Game," released this week.But diehards who have stuck with the band through its twisted evolution are bound to find plenty to like about the Peoria, Ill. quartet's latest slab of angst and rage.

Once known as much for its bizarre makeup and stage performances as its complex, polyrhythmic tunes, Grammy-nominated Mudvayne has morphed into a slightly more radio-friendly unit than the one that recorded songs like "Dig" and "Cradle."

But as early on as the band's sophomore effort, 2002's "The End of All Things to Come," Mudvayne began to experiment with melody, and "The New Game" often revisits the " ... All Things to Come" era with much success.

Right out of the gate, "Fish Out of Water" stutters along with a frantic tension similar to a teeth-gnashing wild animal that's been cornered, propelled by heavy staccato guitar work from Greg Tribbett and punchy, nimble-fingered bass chording by Ryan Martinie.

Equally unsettling is "Dull Boy," at one time a new track on the band's demo compilation album, 2007's "By the People, For the People," now making its second appearance on "The New Game."

Vocalist Chad Gray's manic sneer kicks off the song with a riff on Jack Nicholson: "All work and no play makes me a dull boy," and then it launches into an all-out aural assault that chugs along to the steady pulse provided by drummer Matt McDonough.

The first single, "Do What You Do," is getting heavy rotation on active rock radio playlists, and while it doesn't represent the band at its most sludgy or experimental, its melodic aggression is just as at home in the group's catalogue as "Happy?" ("Lost and Found") or "World So Cold" ("The End of All Things to Come").

Old fans fear not: "The New Game," while melodic, also has ripping doses of "L.D. 50"-style metal.

The ever-ornery Gray, burly Tribbett, rail-thin Martinie and cerebral McDonough revisit the frenzy of their debut on the scorching third cut, "A New Game," which boasts neck-snapping time shifts to compliment its serpentine riffage.

Among the other standouts: the chunky, galloping "The Hate In Me," the angry, ambling "Have It Your Way" and "Scarlet Letters," which showcases Gray's talent in going from haunting, melancholy crooning to patented sandpaper growls and screams without warning.

It may be a little more musical, but it's a solid effort by a band that's as interested in exploring its ever-changing destination as it is in its unique stops along the way.

(Note to fans: Pick up the limited-edition deluxe version of the CD. The dossier-style packaging is clever, especially when you consider both versions of the album contain exclusive code for fans to register and play "The New Game" to solve a murder mystery with weekly online clues. Those who pre-ordered "The New Game" through Best Buy also have access to discounted tickets for the band's latest tour.)

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