Over 2 decades after Korn basically spearheaded the nu-metal movement with their self-titled debut album in 1994, the next wave of nu-metal is upon us. Bands like My Ticket Home, Cane Hill, and Sylar are all spiking in popularity with their own brands of late 90’s-inspired nu-metal, but especially in this genre, it’s always the past that’s looked at for inspiration.
Any list of the best albums nu-metal had to offer has to include Mudvayne’s 2000 debut full-length, L.D. 50. It’s arguably in the top 5 – maybe even the greatest album of its genre. But what makes it so special?
Mudvayne’s debut album was arguably not a nu-metal album at all. In fact, it was awfully hard to categorize the band at all. Were they progressive metal? Nu-metal? Alt-metal? Funk metal? All of these attributes applied to Mudvayne here, and part of this was due to having some serious talented musicians. Bass player Ryan Martinie (arguably the most talented person in the band) was a prominent member, leading the charge on tracks like “Internal Primates Forever” and “Nothing To Gein” with expertly crafted slapping and popping bass techniques that few, if any bands in their genre were doing back then. If anything, it was a throwback to what bands like Primus and Mind Funk were doing in the early ’90s.
You also can’t talk about L.D. 50’s greatness without mentioning vocalist Chad Gray, guitarist Greg Tribbett, and the fantastic drumming of Matt McDonough. Seriously, tracks like “Severed” and “(k)now F(orever)” are 6+ minute tracks that move along slowly before coalescing into a sea of musical greatness. “Severed” even contains arguably Chad’s best overall vocal performance – even more insane than “Dig”. You’d think this was the work of a band so talented they could write a killer progressive metal or even jazz fusion record, and you’d also be right.
Mudvayne would never be quite the same after this album. 2002’s The End of All Things to Come and 2005’s commercial highwater mark Lost & Found were also solid albums. But by that time, Mudvayne had largely abandoned their nu-metal influences and jumped into more radio-friendly waters. By no means was this a bad thing. But Mudvayne’s influence on present-day progressive metal can’t quite be quantified. Led by a strong bass/drum combination and possessing a versatile vocalist in Chad Gray, L.D. 50 remains a bold metal staple that really did change the (new) game, and holds up better than most of its peers. Classic.