We got masks! We got masks! Unfortunately for Mushroomhead, the California hardcore band's tawdry choice of apparel puts it squarely in the category of Slipknot wannabes, at least in the eyes of the casual observer. We question the wisdom of dressing up like a bunch of postapocalyptic Mexican wrestlers when it doesn't do a fucking thing to improve the band's live show. What we don't question is the fact that the band's self-titled 2001 release is a cut above the Slipsters' gloomy grind. Despite using the ubiquitous dual vocalist singer-screamer setup favored by bands of this ilk, Mushroomhead deviates freely from the script. "The New Cult King," with its lyrical pulverizing of Christian dogma and musical tip of the hat to Faith No More is no mere mosh-pit fodder. "Born of Desire" has the required hardcore time signature changes but uses the hyperspeed segue to add another layer of urgency to the arrangement, while the spectacular "Fear Held Dear" -- a song that would have been a perfect fit for The Rocky Horror Picture Show if it had been an actual slasher flick -- features two sets of lyrics that overlap and intertwine in theatrical fashion.


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