A tour is rarely the perfect epitome of an entire genre, but Mudvayne’s 26-city Psychotherapy Session Tour is undoubtedly one of them delivering probably the perfect nu-metal tour in recent years. Having already made some serious waves last year during their co-headlining tour with Rob Zombie, you already know Mudvayne had to turn it up to 11, especially with this being their first headlining tour in over 14 years, bringing an arsenal of heavy artillery in the form of Coal Chamber, GWAR, Nonpoint, and Butcher Babies.
Butcher Babies kicked off the evening with an adrenaline-fueled set inciting the crowd from the first moment to the last. With smiles the whole time, they often engaged with the crowd or members in the front rows creating a sense of intimacy that isn’t often done with these huge amphitheater shows. Fifteen years into their career, it is no surprise that Butcher Babies commands the crowd almost hypnotically backed by brutal, aggressive riffs and melodies. What stuck out to me was how Butcher Babies manages to take themselves seriously, but also not take themselves seriously. This grey area is perfect for them, as it allows them to truly be themselves and have fun as performers, while still putting on a top-notch performance.
Nonpoint followed up by delivering their iconic nu-metal/groove metal sound featuring a level of aggression and melody that is holistically unique to them. Featuring industrial rock, R&B, and alternative metal elements, Nonpoint has always been one of the underrated nu-metal acts from the ‘90s and early 2000s. While huge artists like Korn, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, etc. were at the top, countless others were pushing the genre forward and bringing new fans into the fold, Nonpoint being one of the best. This is why Nonpoint is one of the perfect bands for this bill, amping up the energy in the amphitheater while continuing to bring new fans into the genre.
There is no such thing as seeing the same GWAR performance twice. Each time they come to terrorize planet Earth, they always manage to switch and change it up making sure that while they rule over us petty Earthlings, it’ll at least feel fresh and new. For four decades, GWAR have been ruling over us weaklings with their one-of-a-kind, unique, and impossible-to-replicate experience that is both impossible to forget and not have a good time at.
Filled with blood-stained gory goodness and excitement, GWAR continues their interplanetary contest in Tinley Park as they rip and tear prosthetics on stage all while dosing the crowd in fake blood. In classic GWAR fashion, you already know they had to take the latest slapstick jabs at the most recent political and pop-culture topics while making sure to remind everyone how tiny and weak humans are and that we need to bow down to the superior Scumdogs in GWAR. While being the oddballs of the night, genre-wise, GWAR knows exactly what everyone wants at the end of the day… blood, and lots of it.
Among the big dogs and legends of nu-metal, Coal Chamber is the living definition of it, both in sound and aesthetics. With a sound comparable to Korn, Coal Chamber carved their unique path in the alternative metal landscape featuring heavy, down-tuned guitars, mucky, swamp-like riffs, noise aspects similar to Tool, and an intensity comparable to hardcore punk. From day one, Coal Chamber’s entire sound screamed raw, grimy aggression that would become often imitated, but rarely authentically captured again. Similar to so many other metal acts during this time, Coal Chamber was a reflection of their environment and the world around them, resulting in countless fans flocking to not only them but to countless other bands of the same sound and genre. This is why, in 2003, when Coal Chamber announced their hiatus, it was the breakup heard around the metal world.
While they did re-unite in 2013, did some touring, and released their first record in 13 years, Rivals, in 2015, the general consensus (and my personal opinion), is their true comeback didn’t really kick off until last year making this tour appearance even more exciting. After so much time back, you would think there would be some tour rust, but not for Coal Chamber. Delivering a truly incredible set consisting of Dez Farara’s unique ability to switch up his vocal styles on a dime paired with grungy, groovy, down-tuned pummeling instrumentals, they didn’t miss a beat. On top of playing all their hits plus sounding incredible, it felt as though I had stepped into a time machine returning to the hay-day of Coal Chamber, as the entire band donned their trademark looks channeling the high-voltage energy from the crowd into their live performance all with confidence and, almost, swagger of having never taken a break in their career.
It’s pretty incredible when you realize this is only Mudvayne’s second major tour since reuniting in 2021, as they returned to a series of festivals followed by last year’s tour with Rob Zombie, making this tour even more special both for them and for the fans. From the point you arrived, you felt transported back in time to the Ozzfest years, as the crowd was littered with showgoers in trip pants, face paint, costumes, and make up just like the band. Coal Chamber and Mudvayne back to back on the same tour—You would think AJ Soprano personally booked this tour.
Playing a 14-song setlist filled with fan favorites and even some b-sides, Mudvayne did not disappoint as they exploded on stage dressed to the nines in their signature costumes and face paint. Beyond just sounding amazing, the band’s energy and stage presence was second to none. Yes, they had an incredible stage and lighting production to help, but their showmanship was truly on display with Chad Gray often standing on the amps close to the barricade or even just jumping out into the crowd to get up close and personal giving a huge shot of adrenaline to the show, while also fueling the band themselves up.
Like Coal Chamber, Mudvayne taking an indefinite, extended hiatus was a shock to the metal world, but they couldn’t have come back during a better time. As new fans join the genre, and people were excited to get back to normalcy during 2021 and 2022, Mudvayne’s return after 11 years hasn’t felt like they ever left, especially as nu-metal and alternative rock sub-genres are having a second coming due to social media, namely Tick Tock.
A band that was able to exist and thrive within a grey area between nu-metal, alt-metal, and even prog/hard rock, Mudvayne carved out the perfect space for themselves cementing themselves as mainstays and legends in their own right. To this day, there still isn’t a rival to them both in sound and image. Only those that try to replicate. My favorite part of this tour though is how perfectly timed it was for new and old fans. As old fans still try to get back into shows, at the same time, new fans are currently discovering themselves, especially where they fit within the concert space allowing for these styles and sounds to be placed at the forefront once again. Mudvayne could have cashed it in and done another co-headlining tour with some other larger metal act, but instead built a tour around the sub-genre placing the music and the community at the center.