I’ll admit it. I’m one of those dudes who would like to have another Mudvayne album. I really would. I’d actually settle for a final tour just to get a proper sense of closure for that band. But I’ll just keep waiting.
In the meantime though, the artists formerly known as Mudvayne, particularly guitarist Greg Tribbett, have stayed busy in a variety of bands. Tribbett was doing time with vocalist Chad Gray in the musically inferior Vinnie Paul project Hellyeah until he walked in 2013. Wasting little time he recruited Mudvayne drummer Matt McDonough, Skrape singer Billy Keeton and bassist Perry Stern for a “progressive hard rock” act dubbed Audiotopsy. I’m not sure about the progressive tag, but the music on Natural Causes (Napalm) tends to fluctuate from alternative metal to post-grunge.
On paper the idea of Tribbett and McDonough working together again seems awesome, but the angular and off-kilter Mudvayne rhythms are nowhere to be found here. The closest we get to those days is on ‘Distorted’ and ‘Darken the Rainbow,’ but even then it’s more Lost and Found rather than L.D. 50. And that’s fine because this is a new band and they’re capable of producing their own interesting moments. The best bits on Natural Causes are the songs more in line with grunge (God, I hate that word) like ‘LYLAB’ and ‘The Calling.’ Then you have the strongest track ‘Swim’ which also happens to be the closest to mellow.
Natural Causes starts to show its cracks with songs like ‘Headshot’ and ‘Burn the Sky’ as they feel more like placeholders as opposed to fleshed out compositions. It could have been a noteworthy EP as opposed to a full length that’s been padded out with ideas that haven’t been fully realized. Do we really need interlude ‘H20’ smack in the middle of the album or the three-minute title track outro? Who does outros?
Maybe we can chalk it up to the short gestation period between band formation and album release. These are the growing pains that lead to musical polish. It’s fine, I can wait.