Mushroomhead A Wonderful Life Album Review
Mushroomhead is back with their eighth studio album, A Wonderful Life. This is an album that does come with some changes in the form of new co-vocalists Jackie LaPonza and Steve Rauckhorst. Mushroomhead is a band like Five Finger Death Punch who has a bad rep and produces albums purely for their fanbase. A Wonderful Life, however, has the potential to bring in a whole new fan base.
A Wonderful Life comes in at 71 minutes with a staggering 17 tracks that see the band attempt to venture into new grounds while reviving the 90s nu-metal aesthetic. A Requiem For Tomorrow opens things up with a fast-paced, hard-hitting force of Nu-metal for the modern era. The uplifting keys blend perfectly with the thumping guitars and J. Mann’s vocals. A Wonderful Life starts heavy and continues on Madness Within which is classic Mushroomhead where Rauckhorst’s vocals add a new edge to their sound, which makes them seem accessible to the mainstream. This is the same with Jackie’s modulated vocals.
Where this the vocal line-up really shines are on the tracks Seen It All and The Heresy. Rauckhorst’s vocals on Seen It All are at first jarring bringing an alt-metal vibe to the track. However, as the track progresses his vocals grow to highlight the driving riffs. The Heresy is the first track on the album were Jackie’s vocals shine creating a tense and creepy atmosphere.
The creepy vibes continue on What a Shame with a pounding drum beat and instrumentals. It is the instrumentals that carry this track as the vocals while good don’t do the instrumentals justice. Pulse showcases what Jackie LaPonza can do and bring to Mushroomhead with a blistering, bittersweet performance.
Carry On is the first weak track on the album as it tries to use Jackie’s vocals in the same way Evanescence use Amy Lee’s vocals. The end result doesn’t quite work as it feels more like a shot at the mainstream and not a track, they were passionate about. I do, however, love the bass line on the track.
The Time Has Come is an atmospheric epic with haunting piano keys. This is a precursor to 11th Hour, a tense and unsettling track that is a true gem of A Wonderful Life. The unsettling continues on the whispered opening to I Am the One where Steve nails the unsettling feel before J. Mann bursts the door down with his fast-paced trademarked vocals.
The Flood and Where the End Begins are instrumental epics where their technical skills are allowed to shine. The trio’s vocals are unnerving as they sing softly to great effect. Confutatis goes off book with a church choir that isn’t as jarring as you’d think. This is a nice break from the alt-metal sound and recharge before To the Front kicks’ things up again.
To the Front brilliantly uses keys to create a tense atmosphere before the rest of the instrumentals kick in as it leads into Sound of Destruction a Nu-metal tore deforce. Here Mushroomhead makes a statement that nu-metal will never die.
Another Ghost is a highlight of A Wonderful Life for its piano opening that is both relaxing and unnerving. This then all changes as those industrial guitars kick in. This is a short but sweet track. A Wonderful Life concludes with another choir in Lacrimosa which means weeping in Latin. This is a haunting yet fitting end to A Wonderful Life tying back to their opener A Reqiuem for Tomorrow.
Mushroomhead is a band that rarely tries new things in terms of sound. A Wonderful Life, however, changes that and it works wonderfully for the band. Mushroomhead is a band that despite going for 27 years still has never reached the masses. With this new-lie-up that could all change.