For those with fond memories of the nu-metal rage that conquered the airwaves for most of the early 2000s, the name Mudvayne would seem a foregone conclusion in any corresponding conversation, yet the Illinois natives – turned titans of the era – have proven that is a time for old trends to be given an auspicious resurgence, one that started last year as they embarked on a co-headlining tour with Rob Zombie dubbed Freaks On Parade. Riding high off the renewed interest that said tour naturally sparked, this frenetic quartet has embarked on their first headlining tour since 2009 named The Psychotherapy Sessions, once again donning the elaborate costumes and face paint that they had abandoned in the mid-2000s to differentiate themselves from fellow alternative metal mainstays Slipknot, and bringing along a veritable carnival troupe of relevant names from the 90s and 2000s in Coal Chamber, Gwar, Nonpoint and also comparatively newer visual aggressors Butcher Babies to steep the air in auditory violence.
Following pummeling sets by the aforementioned assembly of sonic slayers, the electricity in the air has been palpable as Mudvayne takes the stage during the first handful of dates of this tour, looking like the new killer clowns from outer space no less. Joined by touring guitarist and backing vocalist Marcus Rafferty, this fearsome foursome has pulled no punches in laying down the modern metal mayhem, spearheaded by front-man Chad Gray‘s raw and ravenous growls, but by no means limited to them when accounting for guitarist Greg Tribbett‘s gnarly, groove-happy riffs, to speak nothing for the virtuosic and rhythmically nuanced foundation built by bassist Ryan Martinie (whom often rivaled Les Claypool with his elaborate slap lines) and drummer Matthew McDonough‘s tasteful yet elaborate handiwork. The band’s work has been no less masterful on all parts, as no crevice of the stage is left unexplored, and Gray takes the time between songs to function as both the band’s avid hype man and also a de facto motivational speaker, touching upon the subjects of mental health, the metal community and the art itself, garnering the loudest approval from the audience when he frequently recounts his first time hearing Metallica‘s “Master Of Puppets” and Slayer‘s “Raining Blood”.
Their decade’s worth of material, spanning five studio LPs, would be a textbook exercise in early 21st century metallic brutality, though has also marked by a level of eclecticism that some might dub progressive in character. Commencing with the nightmarish ambient instrumental prelude “Monolith”, the air of theatricality is firmly established even before the flamboyantly horrific getup of the band with instruments in hand is revealed, while the metallic bona fides of the Mudvayne brand is wholly recapped via a blistering rendition of their mid-2000s metallic ode “Determined”, a concise and meaty crusher of an anthem that no doubt left the likes of Pantera and Carcass with a sense of fatherly pride. Similarly nasty entries with no accounting for subtlety such as “Death Blooms” and “Not Falling” are no less wanting in their ferocity, though the flavor tilts more heavily towards the alternative side of the metal coin with a more multifaceted showing out of Gray‘s voice and plenty of flashy moments drawn from Ryan‘s extensive bag of technical tricks. Ultimately, the early era classics like “Internal Primates Forever” and “Dig” are the ones that get the bodies in the audience flailing as they stuck closer to the band’s extreme image that had been firmly established since their infamous appearance at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards as head-shot victims.
For all of those who have made it to any of the past stops of this tour, what was witnessed could be best summed up as the total package. Intense performances with matching on-stage gesticulations, an elaborate stage show that could rival Broadway, and a sense of camaraderie among all in attendance have been the order of the evening, and Chad himself is more than happy to note the level of respect observed by all in spite of the intense emotions pouring from every song and the degree of agitation reflected by all in ear-shot of it. The resurrection of this now veteran entry of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal has been greeted by the audience with the levels of excitement expected from a kid at Christmas, though the wrapping paper naturally has more of a Halloween vibe.
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