Releasing an album shortly after Christmas does seem to be an odd and extremely daft time. Even more tragic for Mudvayne, whose latest debuted at the lowly Billboard chart position of 49 in America (compared to 2005's Lost and Found which crashed into the charts at number 2). But does this poor timing account for the trigger aimed at Mudvayne? Or have they indeed shot themselves in the foot this time?
It was only the previous November that Mudvayne released The New Game, an album panned for its 'mainstream' ideas that fell short of what everyone expected from the band that dub themselves 'math metal'. Remarkably the Illinois quartet are back to represent their heaviest material in years. Sounding further away form the mainstream than ever before, Beautiful and Strange sets the ball rolling with a riff although not digestible for a radio-friendly audience but one that will be stuck in your head for sometime. Giving credit where its due New Game had its fair share of standout tracks but not a lot to call home about. A heavy dose of crunchy guitars and shredding bass drown the sorrows of Mudvayne's past mistakes, re-introducing a sound not heard as well since the LD50 era. There are no obvious stand-out tracks, which works in its favour as each track stands out in its own right, even the risky titled Heard It All Before. A thunderstorm of a song, with a gloomy intro that turns into an aggressive tirade of riffs exploding with the screams of vocalist Chad Gray sounding as angry as ever before. Even closing track Dead Inside is excusable as the aggression and the drive is there, even if it is merely an acoustic song. It ends with a similar soundbite heard in the opening, representing the full circle the band has come.
And so Mudvayne represents the bands return to their roots; the sound of a band yet again hungry. This CD could do for Mudvayne what Death Magnetic did for Metallica. It just goes to show the what great care that has been taken with this album and thats just in terms of production and musicianship so far. It has been heavily reported that the album has cleverly been released with an album sleeve with artwork only visible under black light. Expect the limited edition copies to be a must have for Mudvayne fans across the world but be quick! there's only 1000!
Personal favs: Beautiful and Strange, Heard It All Before, Scream With Me, 1000 Mile Journey, Dead Inside