>> When you first wake up from a nightmare you become conscious before you can actually move your limbs. In this instance there is true terror and fright, the type of fear that exists beyond reason because you should be able to out run this horror film nightmare but instead your limbs are stuck in cement and you can’t out run what you can’t even describe. But it’s terrifying all the same. The strangest part of this is that when you finally wake up and regain all of your faculties, you surprisingly miss the fear, the anticipation, and the unknown.
Mud Head’s newest effort, 'Black Blood, Black Tongue,' is the nightmare you’re trying to get back to. The first thirty seconds of the first listen could turn you away if you weren’t ready for it. But don’t do that. Don’t turn it off. In fact, it’s encouraged that you give these tracks a complete an uninterrupted second listen. If you listened to Nine Inch Nails or Hum then you should stick around. If you’ve never heard of those two bands, then you have to stick around because you can get a glimpse into what emotion and art can make when combined properly.
Production is most important for this particular track group.
What’s most intriguing about these four songs are the strong melodies buried deep in muddled post production. There’s no lack of understanding the lyrics or hearing the notes, but they are expertly nestled away in a swath of deep bass and guttural reverberation so that they can never truly shine. This is the sure mark of a terrible vocalist, but after several listens this can’t be detected. This is more than likely a case of an unsure front man that has too many controls over the final production, a sure fire way to allow personal thoughts to hamper art, which is what this seems to actually be doing. Ditching control and allowing someone else with an impartial mind and ear to capture what it is that you are trying to accomplish and put a spotlight on it instead of a shadow.
This isn’t to insist that the production is bad. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Whoever is behind the boards here isn’t unfamiliar with production. This isn’t an argument on whether or not Mud Head can be the next Katy Perry, but some cleaner pop could be shuffled into the vocals in order to wash it just enough to allow in the occasional (read amateur) listener. There is no shame in playing to the room. The line between “selling out” and “playing to the room” is often blurred and it always goes against the artist to do anything to seem like they are “giving up their art” for the masses. But treading the gray line is what made so many bands accessible. Examples include Trent Reznor and Maynard James Keenan. To disallow that in the name of art only would be a travesty to the underlying melodies that are ready with acceptance and in general, really great.
In the very first track, "Sunshine Boy," this becomes very apparent with the repetitious “I keep falling far behind”. The hook is buried beneath a driving mechanical sound reminiscent of Skinny Puppy. The industrial sound isn’t as common anymore so if previous mentioned bands in this article excite then this four track album is for you. Everything is drowned in reverb and this eerie Halloween feeling rises with every drop of the drum. The cymbals towards the end sound more like muted broken wind chimes, but the high pitch buries the vocals a little too much.
The title track starts with pounding bomb that most speakers and/or headphones might not be able to reach the final lows. It’s heavy, dark, and a grabbing way to start a track. It’s the opposite of what most of the radio sounds like today, which is homogenous, so when this track starts it’s a breath of fresh air. The refrain of “stay away” compiles with the driving sound to give the impression of forcefully pushing someone away. What Mud Head did successfully is create a piece of art that is coordinated in its emotiveness.
Next up is "They Only Panic." Lyrics and vocals are probably best heard in this track and it’s good. It feels like panic with a bouncing siren and a pounding kick drum. The breakdown with the refrain of “get out of my head” has the sound of the nineties in it but not in a retro way, it’s more homage. It’s catchy and has the closest sprinkle of radio friendly pop mixed in that makes this track the most share friendly for the inexperience listener. The abrupt ending is a nice touch as well.
The album rounds off with "Hiding Beneath Ladders." A twinkling repetitive guitar, a sigh, and an audible throat clear gives off the feeling that this is some poor guy trying to make things right in his bedroom, a lonely and desolate feeling that is somehow comfortable at the same time.
These four tracks remind us that there are still artists out there trying to create art and not entertainment. Share this, listen to it, and then listen again. If there is any time of year that this sound is most appropriate for the occasional listener it’s now. If this sound snatches you up and whisks you away to the dark underbelly of the mind then you’ll more than likely stick around for a few listens. Follow Mud Head because this is only the beginning of something quite beautiful, nightmarish and absolutely beautiful. <<