Mushroomhead's third album, M3, gets off to a harsh and abrasive start with "Before I Die." When that opening number is playing and one is hearing this CD for the first time, he/she tends to suspect that the entire album won't be quite that brutal. Mushroomhead, after all, is a band that thrives on intricacy and melody as well as intensity -- unlike some alternative metal outfits, Mushroomhead doesn't go for the jugular 100 percent of the time. And sure enough, M3 turns out to be fairly diverse. Parts of this 1999 release are dissonant, merciless bursts of metalcore noise, especially "Xeroxed" and the aforementioned "Before I Die." But most of the time, Mushroomhead is a lot more intricate -- and a strong sense of melody asserts itself on dark, moody offerings like "The New Cult King," "Solitaire/Unraveling," "Conflict -- The Argument Goes On," and "The Final Act." Mushroomhead, for the most part, isn't content to provide noise for the sake of noise or brutality for the sake of brutality. These guys are ambitious and risk-taking, and they keep things unpredictable on this alterna-metal CD (which was released on Mushroomhead's own Schroomco label and incorporates elements of rap, punk, industrial, goth rock, and techno). Although enjoyable, M3 isn't Mushroomhead's strongest or most essential album -- in fact, those who are making their first Mushroomhead purchase would be better off starting out with either 1996's Superbuick or 2001's X X. But it's a respectable disc that the Cleveland residents' hardcore fans will appreciate.
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