Mushroomhead XX

Theatrical and progressive hardcore is a sub-genre that very few attempt and even less do well. Ohio octet Mushroomhead has taken the elements of several distinct metal genres and stitched them together, and in doing so Mushroomhead have ended up in a rare sub-genre: they have created a sound that very easily could have been like everyone else’s but instead is uniquely their own. A good chunk of the responsibility for that sound lands on the shoulders of keyboardist Schmotz, as he instinctively knows when to charge to the forefront (as he does in the lead single "Solitaire Unraveling”) and when to hang back and make room for other band members (as he does for drummer Skinny on "Xeroxed”). And sampler Stitch adds to the theatrics with snippets of what sounds like schoolgirl chatter. The band obviously has a healthy sense of humour — "Never Let It Go” has over a dozen false stops that are truly giggle-inducing hilarious (not to mention the bassist calling himself "Pig Benis”). It is too bad that Mushroomhead are doing that Slipknot and Insane Clown Posse masks-and-face-paint façade; they have so much potential without it. (Universal)