Ripped Vest Revisits: MUSHROOMHEAD – self titled debut

In this series I’ll be picking bands from my youth (some that I am embarrassed to say I own, some that still go back to for a nostalgic hit) and see how well they hold up. Do the opinions from my younger days still stand? Do I need to change my mind on some bands and albums? I guess we will see together as I dive into the first requested band: MUSHROOMHEAD.

mushroomhead band
For the uninitiated, Mushroomhead is a band from Cleveland, Ohio that mixes nu metal, alternative, and industrial music. They are sometimes referred to as “The mask band that isn’t Slipknot” due to their rise in popularity during the boom in theatrical metal acts of the late ’90’s and early ’00’s. My introduction to the band was with XX, the 2001 compilation/remix/first major label release in 2002 or thereabouts. I went back to listen to the 3 previous albums to see what the original mixes sounded like and to see what tracks didn’t make it onto their faux greatest hits. Which brings us to today’s revisit!

Self Titled Debut

There first album is about what you would expect from a first release. Everything about this album screams demo to me, from the highly unpolished style, concepts that feel unfinished, and the dependence on samples. That brings me to my first major complaint about the album. There are WAY to many samples from movies in this. They do little to add to the experience and instead feel like filler in an album that already feels filler heavy.

Track one, Slowthing, is close to 4 minutes long and is almost exclusively repetitive samples with a simple piano melody over the top. If it ended 2 and a half minutes in it would be a really effective intro song, but it instead is a bit bloated and meandering. Easily a skippable song.

Track two is Elevation, which gets us back on track. It’s a fairly straight forward song in the style that Mushroomhead will come call home. Somewhere between Marilyn Manson and Mike Patton.

Track three is Too Much Of Nothing with builds off the last song and does a similar vibe slightly better and more upbeat. It’s one of the better tracks off the album in my opinion.

Track four is an intermission where the piano plays random melodies, messes up, then tries again for just over two minutes while people talk in the background. It is completely skippable and I don’t know why it made the final cut.

Track five is a pretty fun industrial metal meets groove metal joint that makes good use J Mann, one of the two Mushroomhead singers. I feel like he is a little more subdued in this album as whole, but this one he stands out more for me. More than just repeating the name of the song like he does in Too Much of Nothing, which is mostly Jeffrey Nothing singing, funny enough.

Track six: Mommy has a really cool 80’s synth that I am a total sucker for. I like the dark synthwave elements tied with the metal guitars. The totally different vocal style and creepy lyrics make it stand out from the other songs by sheer difference. I tend to latch onto the different songs on an album, so it’s unsurprisingly my favorite track on this album. It has an unnecessary sample at the end instead of just letting the song end though, which kind of takes away from the impact of the dark, sad lyrics.

Track seven: 2nd thought has some good keyboards that remind me of Mortal Kombat. Otherwise it’s back to the basic Mushroomhead formula. It’s not bad, but it’s another that fits somewhere in the middle. I wish the vocals were a little less distorted and low in the mix, because J Mann might just have some good flows, but who knows.

Track 8 is Casualties in B Minor, which is just a whimsical keyboard part played over the sounds of layered gunfire. Totally skippable.

Track 9: Indifferent. Ah, we are back to that 80’s synth sound. And Jefferey’s vocals fit so well with it. I wish I had a whole synthy gothic metal album with those tones together. It’s a pretty good early song. Even if J Mann is back to mostly just repeating the name of the song again.

Simpleton is track 10 and it starts with annoying chipmunk laughter that fades out and piano that fades in. This is another fun song, but with pretty bad lyrics. Strong Faith No More vibes. Feels short every time I hear it, which is a good thing I guess. Leave them wanting more.

Track 11 is 43. It’s one I’ve heard a lot because of its inclusion on the Double X compilation that introduced me to the band back in Junior High. It has a sort of Primus feel to me

Track 12 is “Episode 29”, a collection of ideas for a decent industrial song in the vain of Ministry, but the ideas never fully developed so they just threw them together with samples and called it a day. Pretty skippable for me.

Track 13 is Snap and it’s just sound effects for a minute and a half. Skippable again.

Track 14 through 42 are black tracks that take you to a hidden track that is just a compilation of “SlowThing”, “Too Much Nothing”, “Indifferent”, “2nd Thoughts”, “Mommy”, and “43”, so you can basically just stop listening after track 11 unless you have some time to kill for no real reason.

Overall it’s not bad, but I really want to do my own edit where I trim some of the samples from most of the songs and remove the whole songs “Intermission”, “Casualties in B Minor”, “Snap”, “Episode 29”, the Compilation, all the blank tracks, and Half of “Slowthing”. It would end up a lot tighter and one that I could listen to from beginning to end without problem.

As it is, though, a very messy album that can be good when you pick and choose or an experience in full for fans who want to try it out in whole (once). But I wouldn’t recommend it in whole for many more times than that. Now I need to go listen to Midlife Crisis by Faith No More. Or just all of the Angel Dust album.

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