Over the past week or so, I’ve gone through a deep dive of all the Slipknot albums. Throughout my listening extravaganza, I came to realize that if I had to pick a favorite Slipknot song it would most definitely be “Gently” from their second album, Iowa. This is one of those songs that packs so much into it yet, it’s a very minimalist song. It’s one of the songs in their catalog that is experimental yet totally makes sense. When put into the context of the sequence of the album on Iowa, “Gently” not only acts as a perfect transition piece of shifting the album into even darker territory. Something else that is quite interesting about this song is that it dates back to the very first Slipknot release, Mate Feed Kill Repeat. This is one song that I wish they would play more live. And now, “Gently.”
Back in the year 2000, there was an album that was released that left a mark on heavy music at the time. We all know about the albums by Korn, Deftones, Slipknot and more. Those bands really left a lasting impression with their debuts and helped steer the course of the heavy music genre. The album and the band that I’d like to delve into is Mudvayne and the album I’m speaking about is their debut album L.D. 50.
After releasing their Kill, I Oughtta EP, Mudvyane signed to No-Name Records/Epic Records. Their debut for the label would be produced by Garth “GGGarth” Richardson (Rage Against The Machine, The Melvins). Recording took place up in Vancouver, Canada. The recording process for the album was excutively produced by Steve Richards (No-Name Records/Management) and Shawn Crahan aka Clown aka #6 of Slipknot. The sessions for L.D. 50 would prove to be very intensive. The band would be working around the clock as Garth Richardson ran a very tight ship. There were a couple songs that weren’t completed till the 11th hour like “Nothing To Gein” and “Pharmaecopia.” Stylistically, L.D. 50 was much more than just your run of the mill heavy record. Mudvayne incorporated a lot of different styles including death metal, hardcore punk, speed metal, prog rock and bits of jazz. Critics began referring to the bands as “Math Metal” due to their intricate time signatures.
L.D. 50 is one of those albums that still holds up to this day and is still praised by fans of the band and genre. For example the song “Dig” is still one of those songs when you hear it today, you can’t help but get excited. Plus the scream of vocalist Chad Gray in the beginning has become a sort of legendary scream. The video for “Dig” also won the MTV2 Awards for best video. Other songs that have always stood out to me on this record include “Internal Primates Forever,” “-1” “Death Blooms,” (which is my favorite song on the album. And when I saw them live many moons ago, this song was so damn good live), “Cradle,” Nothing to Gein,” “Severed,” “Pharmaecopia,” and “(K)now F(orever).” The album itself feels like an album. The songs are separated by interludes that pull all the songs together. These interludes also provide an extra amount of atmosphere that is needed to break up the pummeling of riffs and rhythms.
L.D. 50 was more than just a “metal” record. It was also a showcase of how talented each individual in the band is and how well they worked together. Drummer Matt McDonough and bassist Ryan Martinie are an absolute force of a rhythm section. Guitarist Greg Tribbett had a knack for writing interesting riffs to compliment the off time of Matt and Ryan. The three of them working together created something that has stood the test of time. Then when you add vocalist Chad Gray into the mix it all comes together. Chad’s lyrics and vocal delivery on this album were superb. His ability to go all out guttural with his screams and then quickly deliver genuine melodic vocals was stunning, especially on “Death Blooms.”
This album is a classic among the albums released since the turn of the century. If you ever read the comments section on any music news site that Mudvayne is mentioned in, you’ll most definitely read a slew of comments of fans of L.D. 50. It’s one of those albums that people pine for due to the rawness and aggression. Just like fans of bands like Metallica pine for the sound of their first 4 albums. It’s a shame that Mudvayne isn’t around at the moment. They were always a top notch live band. Their follow up albums seem to be hit or miss with a lot of their fans but, there are still some very excellent songs among those. I personally really dig on the follow up to L.D. 50, The End Of All Things To Come as well as their “final” album which is technically untitled. I genuinely hope that the four of them can put away any ill will and get back to making great tunes again as Mudvayne. Until then, at least we still have the music and the great debut album in L.D. 50.