Mudvayne @ Starland Ballroom

MudvayneWhat happens when you cross a barrage of maniacal metal with a trippy alt-core juggernaut; some thundering and lightning-fast grooves; and an in-your-face, staccato attack? It’s the Masters of Horror, of course!

Bobaflex hightailed it out of West Virginia with influences like Queen, Wu-Tang Clan, and local WV bluegrass. By the time they reached Starland, their music had evolved into 14- carat fun. It was rip-roaringly loud and infernally fast with a little rapping, some bracing anthems, and loads of growling and soaring singing. All-fired up onstage, with alternating vocalists, Bobaflex earned a fine reception from the still- smallish crowd. They kicked off the night with a deranged hardcore hootenanny that also included great drumming, standout bass playing and a crazy guitarist whose other talent was gobbing and catching it from above.

10 Years altered the state of the room with their echo-y, trance-y music. Hailing from Tennessee, they’ve garnered a reputation for bringing intensity and intelligence to their compositions. Their songs were longer, enveloping, with clear-cut melodies and rockin’ riffs. They constructed an ever-changing soundscape that complemented Jesse’s passionate and expressive voice (no cursing, growling or screaming was heard) by deftly weaving instrumental passages with darkly earnest vocals. Aside from the unexpected cerebral massage, notable was the audience singing along to the whole set, a testament to the band’s buzz- worthiness.

It took a little too long to ready the stage for Sevendust, but the anticipation grew into a frenzy, and then erupted as the band made their entrance. Standing in the back of the room, it appeared the entire floor was bouncing in waves, punctuated by sporadic tsunamis (prompting Lajon at one point to urge people to take care of each other). On the whole, even with their new guitarist, the band was clearly comfortable with each other and worked together like a slickly oiled machine, obviously having fun, while proving their prowess. Featuring a superior rhythm section and tasteful use of effects on guitars, they delivered big-time— tight and well paced. They performed with a unique blend of ethereality and raw power, Lajon’s vocals going the gamut of gut-busting raspy to creamy-smooth. What set Sevendust apart, aside from the distinct vocals, was the texture of their sound—free-flowing guitars to chunky progressions, hard rock at heart with hip-hop bridges. It was a thoroughly enjoyable performance, ending almost one hour after it began, with the crowd pleading for an encore.

After another long wait, everyone that now packed the room crushed forward to be in the front row. Mudvayne cranked up the volume and blew the place apart. Chad, in a ruffled, pouf-bedecked, polka dot clown suit prowled the stage, leaned into the crowd, and executed his trademark scream/sing vocals with gusto. Having seen this band three years ago in full costume, it was good to see them shed the macabre imagery and bare themselves, and their music. What the listeners experienced was Mudvayne’s challenging brand of heavy metal, with sometimes-complex time signatures and ear-shaking shifts in dynamics. Leading the crowd in a chant of each band’s name on the bill, Chad bellowed, “This is not a game for the weak, it’s a game for the strong.” It was remarkable how he commanded the crowd, and they respectfully, surfed up to the stage to pay homage to their master. With Mudvayne’s stop-start rhythms pulsating from the drums and guitars and some jazz-inflected bass playing, they successfully straddled the divide between accessible and abstruse.

It was a solid concert. Four distinct bands of varying notoriety worked like mad to insure no one left the Starland wanting for a good time or a heavy dose of good music.