Forget for a moment that the eight guys in Mushroomhead wear masks, paint their faces, give themselves goofy names like "Pig Benis" and "Dinner," and spew rap-metal lyrics. They also have prog tendencies. "Destroy the World Around Me," the penultimate track on XIII, the band's second major-label release, clocks in at 8:21 and travels through several different moods and tempo changes before segueing into "Thirteen," another long piece (9:30!) that begins with a synthesizer and a laughing baby, then gives way to a riotous version of Seal's "Crazy."
If I were reading this instead of writing it, I'd be intrigued.
Don't get me wrong — Mushroomhead is still full of vitriol, heaping metal, industrial and rap into a lethal concoction topped off with bottom-heavy grooves and a rhythm section that'll pummel you into oblivion if you let it. And clean, well-sung vocals mingle with barked vocals that occasionally border on hardcore. But the overall effect of XIII is a tad less brutal than 2001's XX. That may be because the Slipknot comparisons have died down. (It was clear all along that Cleveland's Mushroomhead, which got a two-year jump on their fellow masked marauders back in 1993, is the better band.) Thus, Mushroomhead crafted more complex and significant songs this time around, further distancing itself from the endangered nü-metal universe. For that, we can all be thankful.