Savior Sorrow
(Mega Force)

The band wears ghoulish masks and uniforms, has an eight-man lineup, and plays a metal mashup that incorporates elements of hip-hop, industrial, and hardcore. Sounds a lot like Slipknot. But people who write Mushroomhead off as a Slipknot rip-off probably haven't heard the one about the time Mushroomhead (formed in '93) almostsigned a deal with Roadrunner Records back in '98. But the label signed Slipknot (formed in '95) the following year instead, and when the band stopped in Mushroomhead's hometown of Cleveland on its first tour, fans forced Slipknot offstage with a barrage of batteries. All that said, the two bands don't sounda whole lot alike — sure, there are the turntables, the screaming, and the angry lyrics — but Mushroomhead's latest album, Savior Sorrow, contains softer songs you'd never hear on a Slipknot CD, like "Save Us," a heavy, Staind-like ballad decorated with piano, and "Embrace the Ending," a pretty acoustic guitar track with deep-throated vocal harmonies. Those tunes are radio-friendly, but the best tracks on Savior Sorrow— "12 Hundred," "Tattoo," "Burn" — are songs that kick you in the face with the band's thunderous rhythms, amp-shattering power chords, and visceral vocals, all wrapped up in an understated musical prowess.

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