by Michelle McMullan
sPaG is tired of talking about the face paint.
"If you want to find an angle to put us down, the face paint is the way to go. The paint isn't what we're about. It's about the music."
How true. Mudvayne is infinitely deeper than the colorfully disturbing face paint they wear as symbols of their apocalyptic musical vision. With their explosive major label debut "L.D. 50", produced by Slipknot's Shawn "6" Crahan, Mudvayne is causing critics and metal fans alike to redefine their terms…musically.
Originating in Peoria, IL in 1996, the band has just returned to the States after a sold out European tour with the British hardcore band One Minute Silence, and they're far from stopping. Who is Mudvayne? Mudvayne is the latest neo-metal band destined for greatness. Describing the band's unique style as "Math Metal" (a metaphor for a pursuit towards something scholastic), drummer sPaG says his group is an "emotionally complex hard groove band…that flows dynamically as Tool would, but quiet."
To the human ears, Mudvayne is anything but quiet, and the definition of the CD's title is the first hint. "L.D. 50" is a medical term standing for "Lethal Dosage" 50, representing how much of a chemical it takes to kill fifty out of a hundred test subjects. A psychological nightmare wrapped in bizarre consciousness, the band derives its inspiration from sources such as Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, evolved consciousness guru Terence McKenna, and serial killer Ed Gein. This eclectic blend of information is woven together with the intent of questioning boundaries, beliefs, and concrete fact. Even the geometric configurations on the CD cover can symbolize an intelligible precision with an unknown destination. In other words, this band is about much more than screaming at the parents for childhood injustices.
Many issues inspiring Mudvayne deal with becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. The track "Nothing to Gein" (pronounced "gain") is based on Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein's life. Gein's story grabbed the attention of sPaG and vocalist Kud as they were leafing through a book on murderers and true crime (incidentally, sPaG was quick to point out that Gein was technically more of a necrophiliac grave robber than a serial killer.) What excited sPaG the most was how he found humanity in Gein. "It seemed so impossible [for Gein] to bridge the gap into mainstream society. I found that exciting that I could find humanity in him". Kud, who allegedly tackled many personal parental issues of his own with the making of L.D. 50 found the subject cathartic in Gein's bizarre mother/son relationship.
Perhaps the strongest artistic influence noted on Mudvayne's latest CD is that of late director Stanley Kubrick. "LD 50"'s first track "Monolith" is dedicated to the central alien image in his classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. "Kubrick", states sPaG, "communicates intellectual concepts non-verbally. He leaves things very open ended. There are many tangents you can go on and the movie becomes yours." That's the message Mudvayne wishes to relate to their fans. The band encourages listeners to own the music, interpret the chilling, screaming sounds openly. Dive head first into the mystery, the darkness, the disturbingly obscure silence and marvel.
And the music itself? Beautiful chaos. Kud combines screams with singing, commands of "JUMP JUMP" juxtaposed with floating instrumentals. With all the innovation of Disturbed, the driving force of Slipknot and the passion of a renewed soul, Mudvayne is an unstoppable band headed straight for the top. One can only imagine the intensity this show's mosh pit generates.
Mudvayne's new wave of "math metal" promises to be a huge success in the new millenium's music scene. When asked what to expect from Mudvayne's apocalyptic vision in the future, sPaG replied "to come to a Mudvayne show will be like watching a movie… a cinematic experience on a grand scale. Stage props, video screens…but that's all I can say. I don't want to let the cat out of the bag."
Mudvayne will be performing around the Midwest before they head to Australia and Japan. Jan. 13th in their hometown of Peoria, IL, Jan. 14th at Kitt's Korner in Madison and in Madison Wisconsin at Kitt's Korner on January 14, and Chicago on the 15th. All dates are with Nonpoint and V-Shaped Mind. For more information on the band and upcoming tour dates, go to mudvayne.com .