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CD Review: Mushroomhead – Savior Sorrow

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Let’s get a few things out in the open prior to beginning to craft a review of the latest release from Mushroomhead, entitled Savior Sorrow. First of all, it’s been years since the whole “Mushroomhead-Slipknot” argument was relevant in any way, so haters of either band can stop reading now if they are looking for the revitalizing of that quarrel. Secondly, those that know my personal history with the band and are looking for that whole mess to stir back up also need to look elsewhere. The past is the past, and for the most part both sides of that debate have just decided to leave each other alone. ‘Nuff said about that. What you are going to get here is a straight-up review that’s not based in anything from the past other than some basic comparisons to their past recorded work, to which I’ll admit to being a fan of on a basic level.

Mushroomhead are back after a fairly long, yet busy, time away from the recording scene. Since their XIII album was released, they’ve changed labels, vocalists and have released a DVD while redefining themselves live. Now on Megaforce, Mushroomhead’s sound is a redefined as well. The core sound is there, but the direction seems to have shifted with the departure of Jason Popson from the band. Much of Savior Sorrow is a bit less abrasive as on past releases; not that Mushroomhead has been an overly heavy band in the last few years (specifically on XIII).

Interestingly, the change from Popson to newest member Waylon really hasn’t made a difference to the sound that much. Most of the vocals sound surprisingly similar to what Popson was doing. It’s definitely not a case of the band having a completely new sound due to the new singer. The style itself has definitely changed, or grown depending on how you look at it. Many of the songs have some very “Corrosion Of Conformity”-like riffs on them. Songs like “Tattoo” feature a grittier, almost stoner-type vibe to them. Other songs, like “The Doubt”, sound more like Dope than past Mushroomhead, only with a gravelly doom metal growl mixed into the chorus. No matter what these guys do, they will never get away from the Faith No More comparisons, and the overall vibe of the first half of the song “Save Us” will reaffirm that claim.

An interesting change in the direction from XIII is that while there were some definite songs that were ready for radio on the last release (“Sun Doesn’t Rise”), this one doesn’t seem to have a clear-cut radio single on it. While the overall material is a bit lighter than XIII or XX, almost all of the songs don’t lend themselves to commercial radio airplay. The only song that might fall into that category is “Pretending”, but that doesn’t even seem like a clear-cut choice for the radio. If it does become a radio hit, it could become something that changes the formulaic, cookie-cutter garbage that plagues commercial active rock. We won’t look for that to happen though, as most of the suits at radio don’t get the fact that music fans are tired of being force fed Nickelback and their clones. The bottom line here is that Savior Sorrow is much more of a release that’s going to please fans of this band while redefining Mushroomhead’s direction once again.

RATING – 7/10 – This is a very solid effort from Mushroomhead, that only loses points for being a little slower than you might expect from these guys. Sure there’s been a lot of change and turmoil in this band, and yes they’ve shuffled their sound around yet again, but Mushroomhead continue to evolve with each passing record. A solid effort from these guys.

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