With its third major label effort, Peoria, Illinois' MUDVAYNE reclaims much of the energy and originality that was apparent on 2000's debut, "L.D. 50", while also retaining the hints of melody and musical ambitions that marked its follow-up, 2002's "The End of All Things to Come". That album sounded a little hesitant and contrived, as if the band was unsure of what direction it wanted to go in. With "Lost and Found", the quartet proceeds with far more confidence and the result is a solid disc of metallic rock with new wave and commercial overtones that rarely dilute the band's overall intensity.The album's first track, "Fucking Determined", kicks things off in now-classic MUDVAYNE style, with a sludgy, rolling riff and steamhammer rhythm overlaid with Chad Gray's heaviest screams. The tune has a take-no-prisoners style that segues nicely into the second track, "Pushing Through", which starts in similar fashion before breaking into a more complex, math-metal middle section. It's easy to see why "Happy?" is the first single; it's catchy and immediate and displays MUDVAYNE's more melodic side, without forcing the issue as the last album's "Falling" did. The album's middle section plays host to two of the band's most ambitious numbers to date: "Fall into Sleep" is an epic ballad with the scope of, say, JUDAS PRIEST's "Beyond the Realm of Death", beginning gently and building to a dramatic final section. Two songs later comes "Choices", an eight-minute extravaganza that tackles the issue of personal freedom and remains musically focused throughout its many parts and changes. These songs alone indicate MUDVAYNE's willingness to continue breaking out of the standard song formats that have plagued many of their contemporaries, and will help further them from the nu-metal genre in which they were initially lumped. After the high point of "Choices", the second half of the album becomes just a tad more generic, although the band keeps up its energy level even if they vary the pace less. The only other glaring flaw is the way that Gray's vocals are produced — he sounds like he's singing through some sort of filter a lot of the time, and a little more in-your-face recording of his voice (in an otherwise good job by former UGLY KID JOE guitarist Dave Fortman) might bring that much more edge to the lyrics and music. That aside, "Lost and Found" certainly finds MUDVAYNE in the position of becoming one of the few bands who came in with the nu-metal tide to avoid being washed back out.
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