The appeal of Mushroomhead has always eluded me. They came into prosperity and notoriety around the time that Slipknot also began to thrive and, while I wasn’t actively choosing a side, I found myself aligning with the more complex and intense of the two masked outfits. What I missed out on then (But am making up for now!) was a different kind of complex, a different kind of intense and a whole lotta missed awesome.
On their newest release, A Wonderful Life, the octet craft a sprawling Metal epic that reaches back to the ’90’s all the while staying relevant in the 21st Century. It’s extreme, it’s maniacal, it’s dark, it’s deep, and overall just a splendid slab of infectious heaviness.
“Requiem For Tomorrow” is like We Care A Lot-era Faith No More and Coal Chamber mixed with some epic Within Temptation. As an opener, it’s equally iconic and anthemic with this glimmering, shimmering seal of heavy heartily heaped on. Vocalists J Mann and Mr. Raukhorst trade off, switching between these beastly militaristic barks and clean, swooping deliveries while surrounded by Industrial-tinged sounds and rambunctious riffage from Tankx.
Going off the aforementioned FNM tip, “Madness Within” is almost the perfect pairing of Chuck Moseley and Mike Patton’s individual styles but more visceral with a contagious stomp leading these eerie carnival tones laid out by Dr. F and Stitch. “Seen It All” is anthemic from start to finish with whispered vocals building towards pummeling pounds from Diablo and Skinny with Mr. Raukhorst and J Mann once again trading verses and barbs creating a unique atmosphere as a synthetic blanket envelopes all.
“What A Shame” is a twisted carnival ride into madness and similarly, “Pulse” is an eerie descent into darkness which continues to explore the unique pairing of J Mann and Mr. Raukhorst while injecting Ms. Jackie’s divine delivery into the mix to create something utterly enthralling.
“Carry On” is an Electro-groove fest reminiscent of early My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult before venturing into anthem territory and later, “The Time Has Come” slowly builds into a massive shredder with thumping drum beats and a throbbing synth/bass combo. “I Am The One” has those whispered vox at the forefront yet again before easing into this barrage of bludgeoning blasts of aggression and then settles into a steady rhythmic thump.
“The Flood” begins with a subtle intensity leaning on a heavy bass from Dr. F and a repeated piano refrain and then expanding into this symphony of progressive soundscapes that The Real Thing heralded back in the early ’90’s. “Where The End Begins” is the beginning of the end as this moody, somber tome drifts between melancholy and malaise with Ms. Jackie’s voice as a beacon in the dark lurching towards a grinding halt after an epic seven minutes and change.
“Confutatis” effectively closes out one chapter of the latest Mushroomhead story and just as effectively leads into the bonus track portion of our tale starting with “To The Front” which serves as a second intro of sorts while “Sound Of Destruction” chugs along with huge grooves and razor sharp riffs. “Another Ghost” is somber and spooky with creepy piano lines before devolving into a percussive, electro-tribal behemoth and later, “Lacrimosa” bookends “Confutatis” perfectly with a final chorale-driven outro.