INFECTED MUSHROOM BREAK INTO BILLBOARD TOP 200

For an Israeli-born band plying their own aggressive rock subgenre, known as psy-trance, Infected Mushroom look an awful lot like mainstream artists these days. In fact, they’ve infiltrated the retail, new media and culinary worlds simultaneously.

For one thing, their latest album, Legend of the Black Shawarma (Perfecto Records), has broken into the Billboard Top 200 at #172.  But even more indicative of the raucous, mesmerizing disc’s appeal are its perches at #8 on Billboard’s New Artist chart, #9 on the Current Electronic Albums chart, #32 on Top Indie Albums, #37 on Top Digital Albums and #6 on the iTunes Electronic Albums chart.  The collection’s lead single, “Smashing the Opponent,” features guest vocals by Jonathan Davis of Korn.

All this chart action–-along with the participation of high-profile Shawarma guests like Davis and alternative-rock luminary Perry Farrell, a Pollstar cover story, an appropriately demented iPhone game and an explosive performance at the Burning Man Festival in September (captured in a glorious DUI-style video by director Petro)–-would seem to indicate that the hard-charging Los Angeles-based outfit’s days as an “underground” act are long over.

“If the foundation of a long music career is the ability to evolve,” wrote Pollstar’s Jim Otey in his current cover story, “Infected Mushroom is a band that’s built to last.”

That evolution has included a mystical leap into the gaming world, as “Smashing the Opponent” has been transformed into an iPhone app–featuring the group’s music and artwork based on Jeff McMillan’s Shawarma album art.  As players proceed through the game’s Black Forest setting, they must use an array of weapons to smash various onrushing beasties and uncover the treasure they protect.  The group’s foray into gaming continues with a free featured download of their single in the upcoming game Tap Tap Revenge 3.

Frontman Amit “Duvdev” Duvdevani (who founded the band with keyboardist Erez “I.Zen” Eisen) has remarked that Mushroom originally planned its most recent disc as “a concept album about food,” so it’s only fitting that the Mellow Mushroom pizza chain has unveiled a "Legend of the Black Shawarma" Pizza, served up at participating locations with a free MP3 download. Two of the franchise’s Florida outlets have reportedly had to re-order shawarma spices, suggesting a new kind of Mushroom might be taking hold of the pizza scene.

Infected Mushroom has built a rabid international following since its founders met in 1996, and they now regularly pack clubs and festivals worldwide.  Their explosive live shows, which mesh shredding guitar, pounding live drums and blistering electronic textures and grooves–-with Duvdev’s manic presence and passionate vocals bouncing atop the mixture–-reliably whip audiences into a mad froth.  From the Ultra Music Festival in Miami to the Virgin Festival in Baltimore, from Mexico’s OMIX to California's Coachella, from Brazil’s Ipanema Beach to Melbourne’s Metro Club, the band has averaged about 120 live performances per year.  This year has marked their first recorded performance at Burning Man, where their tribal mayhem looks very much at home–-as witnessed by Petro’s (Incubus, TV on the Radio) video clip.

Judging by the band’s recent moves, the evolution is about to accelerate and the infection is bound to spread.

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