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Mushroomhead - "Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children" (CD)

Mushroomhead - "Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children" CD cover image

"Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children" track listing:

1. Come oN
2. InspiratioN
3. SlaughterHousE RoaD
4. I'll Be HerE
5. Burn The BridgE
6. HoleS In The Void
7. Harvest The GardeN
8. The Harm You Do
9. Your DemisE
10. The FeeL
11. DarkeR Days
12. Do I Know You?

Reviewed by on October 17, 2010

"Those looking for a variety of sounds won't be disappointed in the array offered here."

With it's creepy combination of lo- and hi-fi sounds, bizarre samples and consistently solid songwriting, Mushroomhead's "Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children" is a good, if not entirely groundbreaking bit of alt-metal. It ought to be enough to silence those who believe this fright-mask-wearing Ohio band to be a second-rate Slipknot.

On this album, Mushroomhead straddles the divide between nu-metal and industrial, usually to good effect, although those who didn't like nu-metal may turn up their noses at the synth-and-drum start of "InspiratioN," which, with its slightly hip-hop feel, will remind some of Limp Bizkit. Far more successful, in a traditional metal sense is the opener, "Come oN," with it's chorus of "Do you really want to fuck with me tonight?" over some excellent guitar work by Dave "Gravy" Felton. Tracks like "Darker Days" and "Harvest The GardeN" also have plenty of metal edge.

Those looking for a variety of sounds won't be disappointed in the array offered here. "The Harm You Do" is a creepy bluesy tune, with Felton's guitar having an almost surf-rock tone. "HoleS In The Void" and especially the Faith No More-ish "I'll Be HerE" feature effective use of Tom "Schmotz" Schmitz's keyboards, utilizing piano tones, and some interesting samples of what seem to be children singing or playing.

The vocals by Waylon Reavis and Jeffrey Hatrix work quite well on most of the songs, with the contrasts on "Your Demise" standing out — as does Felton's excellent guitar solo.

There aren't too many negatives to be had here, though sometimes the sound comes across just a shade tinny. You won't be hearing a lot of bass guitar here, and it would've added a little more weight to some of the songs. I don't really understand why the band decided to go with a bizarre "bow-chicka-bow" sample to open the driving "Burn The BridgE" either, but that's a minor quibble at best.

Mushroomhead's "Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children" is a solid, if hardly groundbreaking bit of metal from a band that's been around long enough to know what its fans want. If you're a fan of the band, you'll love it — and even if you're not, the sheer variety of songs will no doubt include something you'll enjoy.

Highs: "Come oN," "HoleS In The Void" and "I'll Be HerE"

Lows: Some slightly tinny sound, and a couple of silly sampling choices.

Bottom line: A good alt-metal disc that offers a variety of metal and other influences.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)