A Short History of Mushroomhead

Mushroomhead are an industrial metal band originating from Ohio, who have managed to rack up a total of eighteen band members in their two decades of existence. Although often lumped in with the alternative and nu metal scenes, the nine-piece have a wide range of influences from Faith No More (shown best by The New Cult King) to extreme and experimental metal.

Their first three albums (Mushroomhead in 1995, Superbuick in 1996 and M3 in 1999) were all released independently on their own record label, Filthy Hands. After gaining a substantial following through almost 8 years of meticulous hard work and constant touring, they were finally signed to Eclipse Records and a few months later they found themselves signed to major record label Universal. The sudden change of fortune came with the release of a compilation album, XX (released on both labels, but with the Universal edition being entirely re-recorded), featuring the best tracks from their first three albums. The album’s commercial success can be attributed to the incredible single Solitaire/Unraveling, which was their first to reach an international audience and bring them the attention they deserved.

In 2003 Mushroomhead kept their momentum going with the release of XIII, which improved upon their industrial metal formula, by learning how to utilise their experimental streak without compromising the track, a problem that bogged down some of XX’s latter cuts.

Savior Sorrow was released in 2006 and was the first record to not feature the distinctive growls and whispered vocals of J-Mann. However their dual vocal aspect was not lost, as replacement singer Waylon’s vocals were arguably stronger and more diverse than those of J-Mann. Savior Sorrow didn’t quite reach the same heights as the two before it, but many songs (like Erase The Doubt and Simple Survival) still proved why they were a staple for any industrial metal fan. However, 2010’s Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children was greatly disappointing as they seemed to have removed all of their experimental nature from their sound, resulting in a bland, metal-by-numbers album, which had nothing to suggest it was performed by the same band that created XIII.

Naturally when Mushroomhead announced plans to release their eighth studio album, The Righteous & the Butterfly, later this year, I was not filled with excitement. However, there may actually be a reason to look forward to the release. This is because it signals the return of vocalist J-Mann, whose departure is often looked upon as the reason for the demise in the band’s quality control. Whether the actual record can live up to the incredible pair of XX and XIII is another matter, but the premise of having an album with vocal duties split equally between three very different vocalist is a mouth-watering prospect and will be enough to make sure I check it out on release day.

Recommended Mushroomhead:

  1. Bwomp from XX & Superbuick
  2. The New Cult King from XX & M3
  3. Sun Doesn’t Rise from XIII
  4. Almost Gone from XIII
  5. Embrace The Ending from Savior Sorrow

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3 thoughts on “A Short History of Mushroomhead

  1. Thanks again for your awesome articles.

    I live in SE Michigan, and have had the pleasure to see Mushroomhead live quite a few times from 2000-2007 (still with J MANN).

    A lot of their CDs (some which were not mentioned here) featured a very avant guarde, and kinda shitty, techno/industrial vibe. Harsh electronics over females screaming, nu metal movie scripts set to play behind the whump and thud of the bass.

    Their live show is (maybe was, been a while since i have seen them live) quite theatrical and full of energy.

    From XX to Savior Sorrow, I felt Mushroomhead to be on a ramp to more success, but likely because of the stage presence they put on, and unfairly being equated to Slipknot (even though Mushroomhead wore masks before Slipknot was even a thing), really drives down the attendance at bigger shows and festivals.

    If you have the ability to see them at a place like St. Andrews Hall a venue equally as intimate, do not hesitate to buy the $20 ticket and see them, it is well worth it.

    Hopefully their next effort will not be as poor as the last.

    • Thanks for your support! It’s always funny when someone compares them to Slipknot, saying they ripped off their image, when they don’t know the full history of Mushroomhead. It’s a shame they never got the attention they deserved – which is probably born out of them not jumping in with the nu metal scene, instead they wanted to keep the industrial edge to their sound. Hopefully Mushroomhead will come to the UK in the new album cycle and I think with J-Mann back in the fray they will produce something decent.

  2. Pingback: Album Review: Mushroomhead – The Righteous & The Butterfly | RockAtlantic

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