Mudvayne & Powerman 5000 Unite The Mission Ballroom Denver, CO 8-8-22

Mudvayne & Powerman 5000 Unite The Mission Ballroom Denver, CO 8-8-22

Hard to imagine a more explosive era in Metal than the ’90s and early 2000s. The level of bands that pushed bar and challenged the status quo was unprecedented. In fact it was so much the case artists who were long since established “updated” their sound to incorporate what was going on with younger artists.

Two such bands that altered reality were Mudvayne and Powerman 5000. While Mudvayne was established in 1996 out of Peoria, IL, their debut sonic masterpiece L.D.50 came out in 2000. The band hailed one of the best rhythm sections with Ryan Martinie on bass and Matthew McDonough on drums that till this day defy conventional approach fusing Progressive Metal and an almost Jazz like style. Layered with the grinding riffs of Greg Tribbett on guitar that beckons a listener right into the mosh pit. All of this polished off with Chad Gray on vocals with not only almost soothing melodies but earth shaking screams.

Continuing strong, their sophomore release 2002 The End of All Things to Come and 2005’s follow up Lost and Found served to solidify the band’s sound and approach, both blending heaviness with melody in their own unique ways. Sadly for fans as the band churned out two more killer albums, 2008’s The New Game and their 2009 self-titled album, the band took a hiatus while Gray along with Tribbett embarked on an unforgettable run with HELLYEAH joining with the late legend Vinnie Paul. Some wondered if the band would ever return as no one would really commit to it in the press. Then in 2021 in the midst of Covid-19 lockdowns, political unrest, and economic downturn Mudvayne returned with an escape from the madness for their fans by announcing their reformation.

Much like Mudvayne, Powerman 5000 started out in the early ’90s, spending their first few years building on their style and fan base even releasing now sold out 1995 debut The Blood Splat Rating System. Their 1999 release however was the moment the world took notice of Powerman 5000 with the release of Tonight the Stars Revolt!. Even to this day it is impossible to find a Metal station not cranking their hits like “When Worlds Collide” and “Nobody’s Real.” Though by all accounts it was a commercial success the band led by frontman Spider One, refused to ever be a “stick to the formula” type of band, continuously recreating the same album over and over again. In 2003 the release of Transform served as a statement that the band were not interested in staying on the same course. Stripping down the sound to an Industrial-Punk landscape, with an anthem like “Free” paying homage to their state of mind.

While lineup changes usually serve to destabilize a band, Spider One instead used it over the years to fuel growth and evolution of Powerman 5000. Even using a record label switch to his advantage by simply declaring ‘we will do it ourselves.’ Now ten albums later and armed with  one hell of a lineup featuring Murv3 on bass, DJ Rattan on drums, Dan Schiz on lead guitar, as well as Taylor Haycraft on rhythm guitars, Powerman 5000 has returned to the road.

All this in mind, both Mudvayne and Powerman5000 joined together with Rob Zombie and Static-X for the Freaks on Parade Tour giving fans a full contact instructional on just what made the ’90s into the early 2000s so special for Metal. However, for the tour off day, Mudvayne and Powerman 5000 decided instead to invade Denver, Colorado at The Mission Ballroom on Tuesday, August 8, 2022.

A great double bill, Powerman 5000 kicked off the night with “Footsteps and Voices” from their 2017 album New Wave making it clear they were ready to get this crowd moving and no interest in giving them a chance to catch their breath. While Spider One brought the vocal fury, the interactions between Murv3, Schiz, and Haycraft had more energy and insanity than a class of kids loaded on Adderall. Following up with “Nobody’s Real,” one of the most endearing aspects of the band’s longevity was on display, fans of various generations in full sync with each other singing along to every word. Even Spider took a moment to appreciate the sentimental moment by reflecting on even with so much time passing fans were still just as energized as they were the day the album was released.

As the band proceeded in keeping their foot on the gas with tracks like the unrelenting “Invade, Destroy, Repeat” and “Play God or Play Dead” their highlight came in their improve session with “Horror Show.” About mid track Murv3 laid down the unmistakable groove for the White Stripes “Seven Nation Army.” While the band improved on intoxicating riff, Spider proceeded to add lyrics from songs like Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” and Run D.M.C.’s “It’s Tricky.” As the band closed out with classics “Supernova Goes Pop” and “When Worlds Collide” the audience was warmed up ready to go for the return of Mudvayne.

The curtain with the Mudvayne logo was unleashed to a rabid audience who had been anticipating this moment for some time (2008 to be exact). Mudvayne rewarded their fans for their patience and wasted no time jumping right into their unmistakable staple from their debut album “Dig.” For a band who just recently started touring together again, it was as if no time was missed as the rhythm section was nothing short of bludgeoning, coupled with Tribbett’s surgical guitars the mosh pits and crowd surfers were in full effect.

Churning out track after track “Internal Primates Forever,” “Death Blooms,” and “Determined” Mudvayne’s interaction with the crowd between Martinie’s complete beast mode on bass and Gray launching himself into the audience, all while under the menacing stare of Greg it felt even more intense and with even more purpose than their last show at the Fillmore back in 2008. As Gray put it himself, “We are Mudvayne and we are back from the fucking dead!

So where does all of this go? What surprises will Powerman 5000 offer in future releases? Will Mudvayne release some brand new material? Will the world end tomorrow? Who knows? But one thing is for certain if you are missing out on the Freaks on Parade Tour, you are missing out on your chance to go out of this world with a head banging, crowd moshing, freaks jumping everywhere extravaganza. As Mudvayne’s Chad Gray says, “your problems will all be waiting for you after” this is a time for one hell of a Metal show.

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Rafi Shlosman
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