Mushroomhead Album Review

Mushroomhead album cover   Band Name: Mushroomhead
Album Name: Savior Sorrow
Rating: 4 / 5       User Rating: 0 / 5
Label: Megaforce
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01. 1200
02. Simple Survival
03. Stoned
04. Save Us
05. Tattoo
06. The Doubt
07. Burn
08. Pretending
09. The Need
10. Cut Me
11. The Fallen
12. Embrace The Ending

It wouldn't be fair if I didn't admit that I am a huge Mushroomhead fan before I continue writing this review. Some might think I will be easy on the band and give them a fantastic review just because I've listened to them for nearly ten years, but you might be surprised to find that I am actually a little harder on a band that I have supported for years. Not that I don't like any of the other bands I've reviewed, I try to remain impartial and not tell a reader whether or not I'm a fan, but in this case I just can't keep it a secret.

Mushroomhead started in 1993 in Cleveland, Ohio. The bands outrageous stage shows and innovative blend of alternative, techno, rap, and metal earned them a huge local following. I still remember when the man who would become my husband played me the song 'Indifference' crappily taped off of an Ohio college radio station broadcast in 1995. Even through the warble of the tape I could hear the potential of this band. Mushroomhead released two albums independently before Roadrunner Records began courting them in 1998 but somehow an agreement was never reached. In 1999 Roadrunner released Slipknot's self-titled album. This bands conveniently similar image to Mushroomhead's did not get past the band or its fans. Slipknot was pelted with batteries when it tried to perform in support of its self-titled album in Cleveland. Mushroomhead continued to release independent album until they were picked up by Universal in 2001. Now with Megaforce Records, Mushroomhead have replaced co-singer J Mann with Waylon Reavis and put together a new album called 'Savior Sorrow'.

A misconception about Mushroomhead is that it sounds like Slipknot and should be dismissed as a bandwagon act trying to ride Slipknots coat tails. While the debate rages on about who first thought of having an eight man band that wears masks, the fact remains that Mushroomhead is a complex, intellectual, and innovative band that deserves a lot more credit for what it has created and they don't sound like Slipknot! The sheer devotion of Mushroomheads fans speaks for itself, long after trends have faded the kids with their faces painted up like the band will still be at Mushroomhead's shows.

What Mushroomhead does sound like is hard to describe. Yes it blends rap and metal elements but it doesn't sound like Korn or Rage Aginst the Machine. Mushroomhead tends to throw in a piano interlude or big, epic, melodic chorus that sets them apart from other nu-metal acts, and this is were the techno and alternative aspects of the band come into play. Take track two 'Simple Survival' on 'Savior Sorrow', it starts with a few seconds of techno-ish keyboards, then the fast paced, crunchy metal riff starts and the techno-ish keyboard continues over it. There are also the heavy drum fills where the music stops dramatically and starts again, jerking with the drums. This is quintessential Mushroomhead. 'Simple Survival' has Waylon Reavis raping/yelling over certain parts sounding eerily like J-Man. Track three 'Damage Done' however offers up a little different flavor for Mushroomhead. 'Damage Done' has sort of an industrial rock sound, complete with drum machine and strange effects, reminding me of very early Marilyn Manson. Mushroomhead is obviously an experimental band, but this song just didn't settle well with me. Track seven 'Burn' has this same industrial edge but it just seems to work better here than on 'Damage Done'.

Another thing that makes Mushroomhead a great band is it's 'ballads'. I use the term loosely because these 'ballads' are really just the band's slower, more epic, heavy songs. Track four 'Save us' is one of those ballads but it feels a little stilted. Originally, Jeffery Nothing did the singing for Mushroomhead and J-Man just rapped. 'Savior Sorrow' however has J-Man's replacement Waylon singing along with Jeffery as well as rapping. Maybe I just fear change, but I don't like Waylon's singing voice. He is fine when he's rapping or yelling but when he sings he has that Eddie Vedder/Creed guy sound. The two vocalists sound good singing together but you need to really hear both of them. You can't hear Jeffery good enough on 'Save Us' and that is mainly why it wasn't my favorite song on the album. Track eight 'Just Pretending' and track nine 'The Need', are a couple more of these 'ballads', that come off a lot better. Jeffery Nothings voice is much more noticeable and the keyboard that were missing in 'Save us' are back in full force.

I hate to say it, but 'Savior Sorrow' is not my favorite Mushroomhead album. This doesn't mean it's a bad album, in fact, it's a great album. 'Savior Sorrow' has moments on it that are fantastic, but it also has moments that feel a bit experimental, and half of the time, the experiment isn't working. I still highly encourage any old or new Mushroomhead fan to check out this album. You can hear the excellent song writing ability and musicianship of this band shine through any stylistic experiment

Review by: Colette Claire

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