I don’t care what anyone says, growing up during the rise of nu-metal was a great musical experience. During those years, one of the bands that got my attention most was MUSHROOMHEAD. Their dual vocal attack, use of keys and samples, low tuned guitars, and heavy rhythm section set them apart from other bands gaining ground at the time. 20 years since their first record was released, MUSHROOMHEAD unleashes The Righteous & the Butterfly (May 13 via Megaforce Records). This album is dedicated to the band’s original guitarist, J.J. Righteous, as well as drummer Steve “Skinny” Felton’s wife, Vanessa Solowiow. Both were important individuals to the group whom lost their lives at very young ages. As expected, the LP is emotionally powerful.
Some lineup changes have occurred since their last record. The Righteous & the Butterfly features new guitarist, Church, as well as bassist Dr. F. It also shows the return of old school MUSHROOMHEAD vocalist, J Mann. The triple vocalist attack of Jeffery Nothing, Waylon, and J Mann sounds excellent. They each have their distinct sound, creating a very dynamic end result. “Our Apologies” begins with a trippy sounding guitar and the always haunting singing voice of Jeffery Nothing. Shortly after, the song picks up speed with the full band exploding on the track. It goes from a fast paced, chuggy riff section to parts of heavy groove. It was a track that literally made me say “DAMN!” and crank the volume not long into listening. “How Many Times” starts off very melodic with Waylon’s vocals leading the way. It soon gives in to a very old school MUSHROOMHEAD vibe, reminiscent of something you’d hear on XX. J Mann sounds as pissed off as ever, as does Jeffery Nothing and Waylon. It’s atmospherically haunting, yet still very heavy.
The third track, “Devils Be Damned,” is downright catchy as hell. From the guitars and drums to the lyrics and vocal lines, this one is a solid favorite on the LP. “Qwerty” has a large industrial influence throughout the track. Some rhythm sections remind me of a march, while others are in your face with loud guitars. Sitting at the halfway mark on The Righteous & the Butterfly is “This Cold Reign.” All three vocalists absolutely kill on this one and it includes a reference to the band’s past with the lyric “Never let it go.” True fans will know what I’m talking about here. This is one of the most crushing songs on the LP, as the riffs are relentless and will have you headbanging. “We Are the Truth” has my favorite intro on the album, and moments of female vocals throughout. The track is incredibly high energy and dynamic. “Son of 7” displays some of Church’s greatest guitar work on the record. The two solo sections in this song SHRED. And the groove on this one is undeniable! Hands down, it is my favorite song on The Righteous & the Butterfly. Without question, this one will be blasted in my car all summer.
On “For Your Pleasure,” MUSHROOMHEAD injects a XIII vibe into the album. While it feels like a song that could have appeared on XIII, it has a fresh sound as well. This song is further proof that the band will never forget their roots. “Out of My Mind” is a high octane, rocking song. A white-knuckle, pedal to the metal, blazing track, it makes me want to drive my car at unacceptable speeds with the stereo cranked as far as it will go. The LP finishes up with an unexpected cover of ADELE‘s “Rumor Has It.” Though seemingly out of left field, the band places their trademark on the pop hit without fail. Some of you will know a pop cover is nothing new to these guys, as they covered SEAL‘s “Crazy” on XIII. They do a damn good job at making a pop song into an ass-kicking metal tune.
I know that I have focused a lot on the new vocal trifecta of MUSHROOMHEAD, but I have to say the percussion trio of Skinny, Robert Diablo, and Stitch make the album sound huge. Knowing that there would be a new guitarist and bassist featured on the record, I was a bit skeptical. But as always, the Cleveland metallers delivered. I feel that the album will please old and new fans alike. The Righteous & the Butterfly is a strong record that will keep dedicated fans hoping MUSHROOMHEAD will stick around for another decade, if not longer.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Our Apologies”, “Devils Be Damned”, “This Cold Reign”, “Son of 7″, “Out of My Mind”
WRITTEN BY ERIC THE BULL