"The New Psychodalia"

(Suburban Noize)

01. Dear Departed
02. Sin 'O Cism
03. Goodbye
04. Mnemerator
05. Eyez of the Righteous
06. Psychodalia
07. Enough
08. Burial
09. Time
10. Deathbed Masquerade
11. Wormwood
12. Darkseed
13. Devil

RATING: 7/10

These solo outings from members of established bands are always tricky. Stay too close to the sound of your main band and you might get clobbered by the fans and critics, although Wayne Static managed through it with his solo effort. Get too far away from that same sound and you still might get clobbered, the occasional paradigm shift that actually works notwithstanding. In the case of MUSHROOMHEAD vocalist Jeffrey Nothing's first shot across the bow, he does well in moving far enough away from his main gig on "The New Psychodalia" to be creative, yet not so far that one cannot believe it's the same guy that has put in a decade of work with the Cleveland alterna-metal act.

Written during the past four years, "The New Psychodalia" features a solid metallic base due in a big way to a multitude of tough riffs that dig, groove, and bend. Nothing builds upon that base a range of creepy-cool effects and his own ghoulish mid-range voice, yet does so with selectiveness to keep things from getting cluttered. That discriminating method makes the brawnier riff-forward material like "Sin 'O Cism" and "Eyez of the Righteous" punch that much harder. It also makes the accents and oddities effectively eerie, at times even discomforting. "Death Masquerade", "Burial", and "Dear Departed" then exemplify the middle ground, otherwise known as that place where the aggressive meets the strange. "Eyez of the Righteous" in fact offers the album's most rugged groove and also features a killer breakdown that is as mean as it is swaggering. "Goodbye" tones down some of those same elements and ends up the most traditionally modern rock cut on the album and a catchy one at that.

A more demented side of the Nothing experience is also revealed on several songs. Though thematically/musically connected, the freakiness is pushed to the forefront with samples, whispers, and well written piano segments on "Mnemerator", which recalls the more uncomfortably macabre elements of MARILYN MANSON's "Portrait of an American Family". Similar attributes are found on "Wormwood" and the soundtrack to a carnival of the damned called "Darkseed". One certainly gets that feeling that the escape from the world's harsh realities presented in Nothing's lyrics does not necessarily equate to a healthy exit. Aside from the rap patterns and twisted funkiness of "Enough", which works only moderately well in the larger scheme, the album rounds out with a collection of lighter (though no less bleak) tunes, such as the acoustic-based title track and its jazz-lounge smatterings, "Time", which comes with a rather epic piano break.

On the whole, Nothing does a nice job of keeping things interesting without negatively impacting album cohesiveness. In addition to some pretty solid songwriting, "The New Psychodalia" benefits from Nothing's keen sense of mental image-painting and textural touches. Basically, the music sounds like the artwork looks. MUSHROOMHEAD fans have every reason to grab a copy of "The New Psychodalia". It may also do the trick for those needing a break from metal/rock predictability or that simply have a hankerin' for some skewed artistry.


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