By Luigi Sibona
Passion project of Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky and Converge drummer Ben Koller, Mutoid Man careered onto the scene with 2014s statement of intent EP, ‘Helium Head’, and here they are with their blistering second full-length, ‘War Moans’. Along with bassist Nick Cageao, the genre-bending trio mix up a heady fusion of psychedelic prog and chunky metal riffage, all wrapped up in a lean punk delivery.
Kicking off with the aptly titled lead single, ‘Melt Your Mind’, Mutoid Man make it clear that you won’t be hearing a record with such reckless abandon all year, careering from riff to riff like an ADD cannonball. Coming in at little over the two minute mark, this hook-centric banger is such a strong opener it takes a few replays before you even make it to the rest of the record.
Following this formula on the album’s front end, each cut is crammed wall-to-wall with wacky invention. There’s so much going on in such a condensed space it can be hard to take measure of just what Mutiod Man are doing to you as they pump your earholes full of breakneck riffagasms and thunderous drum fills. If you’re familiar with Ben Koller’s previous work in Converge and All Pigs Must Die (if you’re not, get familiar) you know he is one of the best drummers in extreme music and he pulls no punches on ‘War Moans’ bringing a thunderous backbeat to the mix.
From its hit-the-ground-running opening, ‘War Moans’ scarcely takes its foot off the pedal save for a couple sludgier hooks courtesy of tracks like ‘Irons in the Fire’, one of the standout tracks. It’s clear these guys love the world they inhabit and are having a hell of a lot of fun with it. They pay lip-service to every kind of riff in the rock and metal playbook from the rollicking rock’n’roll to the circle-pit-worthy thrashers on the likes of ‘Micro Aggression’ and ‘Date With The Devil’.
At little over the half hour mark ‘War Moans’ doesn’t hang around and this approach serves them well. There’s so much going on in 30 seconds of these tracks that listening for any longer without a breather might make your brain spill out your nostrils. Mutoid Man manage in 3 minutes what some of the most established prog rockers do in 8 or more. The ferocious fusion of psychedelic, noodly guitar lines and heavy-as-fuck rhythm section in a whirlwind, punk-rock package feels like an acid trip into a pinball machine.
Just when you think they can’t throw another curveball into the mix, Mutoid Man hit you with the best heavy-slow track you’re likely to hear all year. The closer, ‘Bandages’, with guest vocals from Chelsea Wolfe, is mournful, composed and swells to a grand guitar line riddled climax that displays a sense of cinematic scale unseen up until this point.
Huge props have to go to Stephen Brodsky, who’s always had a killer set of pipes that can turn on a dime from soaring cleans to dry howls, on his finest vocal performance perhaps since at Cave In‘s 2000 seminal record, ‘Jupiter’. If anything, he pushes himself further than on any of his past efforts carrying a crazy number of vocal melodies and when he does let out some of those screeches they land and then some.
If you like rock’n’roll in any of its infinite and eclectic guises, I refuse to believe you wont dig this record. Packing in more grooves, hooks and riffs than you could shake a tree at, Mutoid Man have dropped a blistering record. At nearly halfway through the year, 2017 is already a rad year for rock and metal and Mutoid Man are right at the front of the pack.