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Mushroomhead XX

By Jeff Watson, Contributor
Sunday, January 27, 2002 @ 9:23 AM


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I give up. After listening to Mushroomhead’s debut album, XX, I have officially given up on what passes for rock music today. I have now passed through that terrifying barrier that separates young, energetic music fanatics who read Rolling Stone vociferously and have become an old, cranky man who bleats on about “the good old days” when rock was potent and…well…good. Much like the crusty Doors fans and Deadheads who I would openly mock as a youth, laughing at their inability to see through the psychedelic haze of their youth at the importance of (then) modern music, I have become that which I fear the most: a guy who just doesn’t “get it.” I ain’t hip, folks.

Then again, if this is what passes for quality these days, I will wear the badge of “square” with honor. Call me Grandpa Moses and send me off to the land of Depends – I will go with pride. You see, Mushroomhead are, without a doubt, the creators of the most abominable music I’ve ever heard (this includes the following: Creed, Candlebox, Tiffany, Herman’s Hermits, cats howling, jet engines, rocks being smashed together, a trash compactor, and the theme to Silver Spoons). The Backstreet Boys have more to offer this world. Britney Spears is an artistic epiphany compared to these poor clowns. Mudvayne are masters of culture when held up to these sad men. You get the idea.

A nine-piece group with masks from Cleveland, Mushroomhead blend the worst elements of rap, machine-gun guitar riffs, and overwrought vocal histrionics. They have been called “Slipknot Jr.,” but that tag does a mild disservice to the current kings of masked hardcore (side note: Mushroomhead fans claim that the group was the first to don silly masks: a trifling argument, to say the least. Besides, GWAR was first, anyhoo.). If Slipknot are, justifiably, written off as a cartoon band, then Mushroomhead are the Banana Splits of nu-metal. Their guttural howls and “I hate Mommy” lyrics are comical, sounding no more terrifying than Disney’s Haunted Mansion record. Lines like “I refuse to fold into your arms / Media’s ventriloquist, Anglo-Saxon evangelist” and “I feel so helpless in this haze / Better days are laid to rest” would be better suited for a suburban goth’s diary, while a growled “Greedo died by the hand of Solo” from the unintentionally hilarious “The Wrist” belongs on a Weird Al record.

Sonically, Mushroomhead strive to attain the sound of hell – guitars are downtuned and foreboding, operatic keyboard flourishes swell, the drumming is fast and furious – but it’s all so limp, so contrived, that I can hear Count Floyd from SCTV intoning, “Oooh…SCARY!” Each element of Mushroomhead’s musical brew is sophomoric. The rapping has all the punch of an early Will Smith record, while any singer schooled in the bombast of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals could pull off the over-the-top vocals on XX. To make matters worse (as if it were possible), the album features the worst production and mixing since The Stooges’ Raw Power. Although XX is a major label re-release of their self-produced indie album, you’d think that the powers-that-be at Universal could have chipped in a few extra dollars for a decent mix. Perhaps though, the band’s allocated funds were spent on silly masks instead.

“Hey, old guy,” you might say. “You just don’t understand! Mushroomhead are all about aggression! It’s supposed to piss you people off. Remember when rock was dangerous? Well, they’re just taking it further!” To this criticism I say, please blow my desiccating genitals. You see, I’m a fan of punishing, atonal music. Slayer, Cradle of Filth, Big Black, late-era Ministry…all of these ear-splitting monstrosities get a gold star from me. They express their anger with artistry, or at least a good guitar tone and some wit. These boys are merely monkeys throwing their own feces.

Do not buy this record. EVER.

0 stars (and that’s being kind)

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