A metal band formed in Peoria, Illinois in 1996, they go by the stage names: Chud (vocals), Guug (guitars and vocals), Spug (drums), and Ru-D (bass). Their first album was self-released and called Kill I Oughta.
Their music is weird, aggressive, complex, and dark. The heavy crashing walls of sound are purposefully chaotic, quickly shifting rhythms and harmonies to leave listeners disoriented. It seems like they embrace this chaos purposefully to disorient the listener. The musical confusion and muddled lyrics serve, it seems, to keep the listener from getting caught up in the details and straying from the emotion of the song, which is usually pure hatred.
Their stage show compliments their weird musical philosophy- each member wears wicked demonic or generally frightening hair styles and face paints, resembling the masks worn by their mentors: Slipknot. This often involves costumes covered in chains, spikes, and lots of stage blood. The band even brought their full battle gear to the MTV Video Awards, where they accepted the MTV 2 award for "best music video" while wearing face paint and sporting fake bullet holes on their foreheads.
Their lyrics, album art, and composition, however, are all more intelligent and uplifting then the band's sensational hardcore image suggests. Their first major-label album, L.D. 50, is named after the exact level of a chemical dosage it takes to kill 50% of a test population. The work is a passionate, if not completely coherent, concept album on human evolution and drug use. In the album art there is a chemical diagram of a molecule as well as a diagram of the Tree of Life, a mystical model of both the human body and the path to heaven in the Kabalaistic tradition. Interspersed throughout the work are distorted quotes from Terrence McKenna, a famous author on man's relationship with hallucinogens. The first song is titled “Monolith,” named after the black rock in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
All this occultism hiding in the lyrics mirrors one of their big influences, Tool. Both bands use dark, unusual compositions and aggro-spiritual lyrics to separate themselves from the herd. My friend went so far as to call them "Tool Jr." After the release of 2002's The End of All Things to Come, this similarity became much more apparent.
The End of All Things to Come uses melody more frequently and more skillfully than Mudvayne’s previous efforts, and combines it with the most profound moments of lyrical clarity. The entire album seems to be the conclusion to their 2001 release The Beginning of All Things to End, and as such is all about eschaton. It ends in the self-titled track and then “A Key to Nothing,” which proposes we kill everything and everyone: “When the whole damn world is dead, there’s your fuckin’ peace.” Parallel to this is a strong theme of spirituality and self-empowerment.
“Mercy, Severity” and “(Per)Version of a Truth” both have references to the Kabala and the Tree of Life. “Solve et Coagula” is about the old alchemist’s maxim “destroy to re-create.” The album art is a 3-dimensional triangle (the dragon’s eye) and on the inside is a row of symbols. Each song corresponds to a symbol, which also loosely corresponds to an astrological sign.
Even though this increase in mysticism brings them even closer to Tool, they are too non-conformist to be a carbon copy of any other band, even one so sinfully kick-ass. On The End of All Things to Come, they grew proudly into their own sound, producing a few painfully beautiful moments and a generally more entertaining ride.
The singing style remained angry and guttural, shifting from melodic a capella
sections to demonic roars to back-and-forth rhythmic rants. The rhythm section masterfully pounded out quick bursts of sound as well as lengthy off-balance rhythms. In order to accomplish this at top speed and efficiency, the band has a habit of going into fucked-up time signatures
like 17/8 and 11/8.
Their rhythms get so fast and hard, in fact, that they have a hard time playing them on tour. The band has re-arranged since their inception, losing their original bassist/vocalist and replacing him with a much more talented bassist who, unfortunately, does not sing. This leaves something to be desired when they try to play their older stuff. They have also quit wearing their make-up all the time. These changes, though, appear to be the beginning of a reincarnation for the band, and not an end. Expect more kick-ass albums from them in the future.