Review: Mudvayne – ‘The New Game’

Posted: November 30th, 2008
Contributed By: Nick

Purchase @ Amazon
Release Date: November 18, 2008
Mudvayne is:
Chad Gray (Vocals)
Greg Tribbett (Guitar)
Ryan Martinie (Bass)
Matt McDonough (Drums)

Overview: So I was at a Mudvayne show in ’05, and unfortunately it was canceled due to tragic circumstances. However the news was delivered to the sold-out crowd more than 2 hours after doors had opened, and most had already started boiling with impatience. As everyone angrily flocked out, I watched one distraught fan turn blood red in the face, raise up his arm, and forcefully slam it down on the bar, clearly fracturing bones in his hand, wrist and fingers. Post-trauma, he didn’t so much as wince, proving just how intense Mudvayne (and their fans) have become. And mind you this was more than three years ago. At the time, Mudvayne was touring behind their fresh new album ‘Lost and Found‘, which would eventually join the platinum ranks of the band’s debut album ‘L.D. 50‘ thanks to the powerful radio presence of singles like “Happy?” and “Fall Into Sleep”. Keeping their momentum going, Mudvayne are back with their latest, aptly titled ‘The New Game‘. The band is currently on tour with 10 Years and the revived Snot, while their latest single “Do What You Do” is making headlines at rock radio.

The Good: Mudvayne got game. Duh. With ‘The New Game‘, Mudvayne reinforce the A-game they bring on each album. The disc awakens with the visceral kick-starter “Fish Out Of Water”, which thrives not only off raw energy, but also a surprising bounty of mood and sensitivity. “Have It Your Way” is a smooth gallop that becomes increasingly catchier with each successive listen. Mudvayne offer a true taste of their past on the title track, a cataclysmic pummel that is rather studious. By its halfway point, “A New Game” sprouts into a soaring blend of melodies and epic guitar solos, pegging it as one of the disc’s most thorough works. The veteran “Dull Boy” makes a welcome cameo, a gritty and fiery cut that’s exquisitely harmonious at times. “Do What You Do” might possibly be the hookiest single in Mudvayne’s repertoire, boasting a bevy of easily digestible features and a breakout vocal performance by Chad Gray. A groovy, 6/8 face-peeler, “The Hate In Me” is a supersonic, super-frenetic 3 minute and 23 second kick to the grill, as guttural vocals by Gray and destructive drumming by Matt McDonough leave you happy to sacrifice a molar or three. “Scarlett Letters” is a Mudvayne ballad-infusion, a soulful and spirited trip lined with downhome flavor; although the incidence is clear, never once does the band sound like they’re trying to squeeze blood from the Hellyeah stone. The quirky “Same Ol?” is invigorating and sporty, glowing with metalcore nuances to give it a witty persona. “Same Ol?” sees Mudvayne hit their zenith of excitement, the effervescence exuded by the band translating into listeners feeling giddy. Thanks to the crafty drumming of the nimble Matt McDonough, the already consistent and reflective “Never Enough” is truly brought to life. “A Cinderella Story” is a pump of upbeat, propulsive energy. The band cools off for a serene and sultry bridge, where sharp tambourine hits give the tune a tribal vibe. ‘The New Game‘ rounds the bases one last time with “We The People”, a booming and colorful rager that’s unforgiving and unrelenting. ‘The New Game‘ is a Mudvayne both familiar and new, as the band seamlessly juggle dips in the past with present day adaptability for a sound that will please the same old as well as the newcomers.

The Bad: Let’s begin with “Fish Out Of Water”. After the initial smack, I was expecting a beastly opening track, only to be left with a pretty bland tune overall. “Have It Your Way” is about as exciting as getting a Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet in your basket on Halloween, a disheartening moment for Mudvayne on a track that could have been a step above the rest. Luckily, “Have It Your Way” is spared most boring honors, as that award is reserved for the manila envelope, white boxy Volvo “Never Enough”. It might be radically clingy, but “Do What You Do” is so overly calculated and stiff that it makes it hard to digest; combine that with an annoying hook and a performance by Chad Gray that will make you cringe, and “Do What You Do” is a misfire. Gray is also the folly of “Scarlett Letters”, his grating vocals injurious to a song built on tenderness. And poor Mr. Gray is also the downfall of “Same Ol?”, as the man painfully plods through the track’s lyrical junkyard with raps that don’t come close to cutting the mustard. “We The People” is a strong ending, but the last seconds evaporate much too quickly, a minuscule glitch in production that ends up fouling a really solid nest. The biggest detriment to ‘The New Game‘ is the lack of dynamics Mudvayne show. More specifically, the band squanders opportunities in several of the song’s bridges to turn o.k. tunes into memorable ones. Take “Dull Boy” for instance-when the band starts to mellow out, it seems as though the song will become emotional and strong. However this foreplay dissipates far too quickly and “Dull Boy” is left dwindling down a standard-fare spiral. The prime example of my thesis arrives during “A Cinderella Story”. Despite starting its bridge with eclectic and venturesome gusto, Mudvayne end up retreating back to mundane filler to close out the song, a shameful trend that kills ‘The New Game‘.

Bottomline: Giving credit where credit is due, I have to commend Mudvayne for being a band that consistently unifies heshers, rockers, and commercial accessibility. Unfortunately this time around, Mudvayne seem more intent on capturing more of the latter than they are either of the former, a statement the band has a difficult time covering up on ‘The New Game‘. There’s just nothing here to make me think “gee, Mudvayne sure have done it again”. Fact is, for a group of musicians this talented to sound as challenged as they do on this record is appalling.

Rating: 5 out of 10