With Nu Metal into full swing in the music industry, it would take quite a bit to set oneself apart from the pack. The bands were being signed and swept up like they were the last drops of water in a drought but very few of them had the talent and heart to outlast the rising trends that would eventually devour them all. But out of the many bands that were signed and pumped for that hit album, only a few of them took a chance with their music and sounded…unique. MUDVAYNE was one of these few and their debut album, “L.D. 50”, was artful, progressive, insightful, and heavy as hell – none of which describe the majority of the Nu Metal bands around them.
When I had first popped in “L.D. 50” back in 2000 it was a shock to the system. I was used to hearing bands like DISTURBED or DROWNING POOL and something as progressive and out of the ordinary like “L.D. 50” didn’t sit right with me. So I threw it back in my book of albums and didn’t listen to it much. But as I grew with my music I came to realize all this album had to offer on repeated listenings even if it didn’t catch me on first spin.
What I enjoy most about MUDVAYNE in this first stage of their oddly moving career is that it felt as if the band had no boundaries. They didn’t feel the urge for a radio single (although the oddly anthem-like track “Dig” remains their closest) and didn’t feel the need to make separate tracks for that matter. Most of the songs are streamlined together with space/noise and odd clips and phrases, but it does all work quite well together in some kind of consistency.
I definitely wouldn’t use the word ‘flow’ with MUDVAYNE on this record as most of the songs do have a spastic and attention deficit demeanor to their performances and writing. Whether it’s the quick changes in tempo/timing or the some what sporadic whipping of soft to brutal, most of what’s on “L.D. 50” follows this pattern. Chad Grey goes from soft singing to guttural barking, guitars weave from melodic intros to staccato riffs, drumming burst into random double bass batteries, and Ryan Martinie has some of the best and most interesting bass work I’ve ever heard. The band is on top of their game right away with this debut and it’s refreshing.
It’s still Nu Metal and many Metalheads will continue to hold that against this album. Down-tuned guitars, bass heavy mixes, and the soft/heavy weaving will still make some individuals cringe but of all of the bands at the time this is probably the most unique and interesting offer there is. Too bad the band has lost a lot of the elements that make this a great listen in the last few years but “L.D. 50” still remains as a beacon that you can garner success without fully conforming to the mainstream.
Songs to check out: “Dig”, “Death Blooms”, “(K)now F(orever)”.
(Online January 17, 2009)