MUDFACE is an American Thrash Metal band that brings its Thrash in a groovy manner. The band was formed seven years ago and was formerly known as S1FT (1998-2005, 3 demos released). Under this new monniker a demo was put out in 2006, followed by the self-titled, 4-track EP in 2008. Several gigs and much inspiration later, the first album is out: “Anti” (since early February 2012). This full-length contains ten tracks and is self-released.
It begins with the title track’s direct attack in the form of fast double-bassed groove Metal. The aggression comes out better when the verses are due, together with Chris’s fierce screams. The pace goes up in the bridge, while the melodic level increases in the chorus. A clean (music and vocals) piece leads to the solo part, after which it’s pedal to the metal again. So far, so very good. “Head Without Face” is next, also kicking in directly, only here there’s no time for an intro. Like before, firm grooving Metal with ballsy vocals. The bridge is dark, has something MACHINE HEAD-ish and connect with an emotional chorus. Overall, this could have fit among MACHINE HEAD’s more emotional tracks. Well done.
“Killshot”, as the title says it, is another aggressive track. Beginning with a drum roll and flowing over into midtempo Thrash Metal, the song offers very nice riffing and the expected screamy vocals. But the two work well together, music and vocals. The chorus is slow at first, has a Hardcore influence, and then the vicious sounding of the title erupts: “the kiiiilshot!”. To break the stream a little, the band added a dark and gloomy middle section before the chorus is on repeat the song nears its end in a slow and agonizingly (hence the screams) way. It’s another good song, in se, but it should have had a guitar solo.
“Puppets Of Wrong” offers sharp, ferocious riffing to begin with, followed by pounding drums. This all transcends into midtempo Groove Metal, sounding again somewhat Hardcore-like. The screams are almost squeals. I understand that with aggressive music comes aggressive singing (screaming, growling, whatever), but here I have to admit that I’m not fond of the timbre. Or rather, screaming itself is ok, but change the tone. Then again, there’s also room for clean singing. The chorus also has the squealing and multiple guitar layers to create a massive wall, while the drums have changed pattern and since the guitar input sounds like one massive entity, it would have been better if the riffing was more distinguishable. Like the previous song, this one should have had a solo moment or something that would break the grooving wall here and there.
This leads us to “Knuckles”, where the groovy Thrash comes pounding out of the speakers. The verses are slow, but the ballsy vocals don’t sound any less aggressive. Melody comes out more as the chorus approaches and bursts out. Over halfway the song gets a kick in the rear with pounding, double bass drums that lead the charge. However, one detail: the squealing vocals. “Warbeast” is a rolling Groove Metal track with prominent screams. The bridge is dragged onwards and the pace picks up in the midtempo chorus, which is definitely not a soft touch to the ear. It’s nothing happy either. But why all the yelling? A clean break comes in to form a resting point and create a big contrast. It sounds similar to PANTERA, MACHINE HEAD and so on. Rhythmic hits are used to rebuild the song and venture into a Bluesy solo moment before it’s back to business to end it all.
Time for something speedier then, with “I Am The Temple”. The start definitely is, but the tempo falls back then. Drums are important here, so are the screams that take turns with clean singing. The music overall is of course far from ballad-like. All in all, another good song, save for – yes, I’m on repeat – the screams. There’s something about the timbre that just ruins the fun for me. “1969”, the year of the moon landing, the first flight of the Concorde, and so much more. This song is started by bass and drums, followed by the guitar, offering a powerful metallic mix. The verses are filled with clean vocals, though with a rough edge. It made me think of KORN or DISTURBED. In se, nothing wrong with that. The screams/squeals however… The music does grow in volume as the track moves towards the chorus. Here as well the band added a clean break halfway before restoring the power.
“Ghosts Of Desolation” has wahwah-melodicness in its powerful intro. Rhythmic verses feature those typical screams that sounds a bit like Mille Petrozza (KREATOR) without the roughness. Those screams make way for clean singing in the pounding bridge that connects with a vicious, menacing chorus… that has dual vocals, yes indeed. As a surprising twist, the band shifts into higher gear in the last part, where the solo hides. Last and certainly not least, there’s “To Wander Where One Should Not”. This is even, for me, one of the highlights on this album. Powerful Groove Metal that is firm, direct and punchy! With a fast, pounding bridge and midtempo, cleanly sung chorus that smoothly connects with the aggressive verses. Halfway the track is ideal for a solo or a certain bridge, but alas, no change of direction here.
All in all, MUDFACE have made a very decent debut album. Pete, brother of Paul Bostaph (EXODUS, SLAYER, TESTAMENT, FORBIDDEN, …), can indeed play the drums. Other than that, “Anti” offers a nice load of Groove/Thrash Metal, sort of like PANTERA meets MACHINE HEAD meets METALLICA meets (choose a band). The production is well done, too. My sole point of criticism is, indeed, the vocals. Nothing against screams when dealing with extreme music, but balance and timbre are equally important (in my humble opinion). Other than that, “Anti” is certainly worth checking out.
- Head Without Face
- Puppets Of Wrong
- I Am The Temple
- Ghosts Of Desolation
- To Wander Where One Should Not
Chris Dinsmore – vocals
Rich Pia – guitar
Brett Crane – keyboards, vocals
Hugo Calderon – bass
Pete Bostaph – drums