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Album review: Mudvayne's 'The New Game'

November 17, 2008 |  3:13 pm

Mudvayne__240 The plot of Mudvayne's new album of growly aggro metal reads like a truck-stop Raymond Chandler novel. Someone killed your best friend, and because the small-town cops are useless, it's up to you to find out who did it. The shifty-eyed weed dealer with the simmering vendetta? The tweaking Vietnam vet overly fond of high-school chicks?

One thing Philip Marlowe would not do after a hard day of busting heads and breaking hearts is listen to Mudvayne. Although "The New Game" tries to instill a bit of dread with a goofily sordid narrative, it trawls some pimply musical terrain to get there. The album's gooey, mid-tempo grind at best evokes System of a Down stripped of ambition and eccentricity, and might elicit sympathy with whatever culprit is running around that no-stoplight town.

Mudvayne's oeuvre has long tried to reconcile vocalist Chad Gray's radio-ready inclinations with more menacing instrumental fare. The band should pick one card and play it, as almost tuneful single-bait like "Have It Your Way" and "Scarlet Letters" undermines the gnashing of "Dull Boy," which sounds like having a lukewarm bottle of Bud Lime broken over your skull.

Why this stuff still sells in an otherwise great time for metal is the real mystery here.

--August Brown

"The New Game"
One star