What with eight bandmembers clad in matching jumpsuits and rubber masks, and the bludgeoning cacophony those bandmembers have produced over the years, it's easy to dismiss Mushroomhead as a bargain-basement knockoff of Slipknot. Shroomco, however, was founded in 1993; Slipknot didn't come together until 1995. And Mushroomhead donned the getups not as a gimmick, but to keep its moonlighting members' identities a mystery: The outfit was originally launched as a side project/supergroup that pulled from several of Cleveland's more lauded acts. Every bit as menacing as its Iowa counterpart, Mushroomhead has appeal that extends beyond shock value; take away the disguises and you're left with metal that's more sophisticated in its arrangements and approach than Slipknot's. And in contrast to lyrics that aim for the lowest common denominator -- lyrics like "I wanna slit your throat and fuck the wound" -- Mushroomhead's are kid-tested and mother-approved. In fact, the band's latest disc, Xiii, its most accessible and melodic effort to date, doesn't contain a single expletive. If you're a diehard metal purist, you might think these guys are soft Nancy boys; then again, you might consider them mature intellectuals who don't need to resort to the filth, flaring, filth to get the point across. Remember, we are talking about a bunch of grown men wearing masks. Fuckin' A.
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