When Cave In guitarist/frontman/mastermind Steve Brodsky and Converge drummer/madman Ben Koller announced they were teaming up to form Mutoid Man, the underground metal community as a whole began frothing uncontrollably at the mouth for what they could possibly have in store, and rightly so; after all, these guys are in two of the most highly-respected and universally-praised metal bands in the history of the genre, and the thought of a mash-up between their musical talents was an enthralling prospect, to say the least. And enthralling it was; truth be told, few debut EPs have made as strong a first impression as Helium Head did. The insane hybrid of rock, punk and metal made for a satisfying and addictive listen, one that was over far too soon and left listeners wondering when a Mutoid Man full-length would happen. Well, after a very long year wait and the addition of a bass player in the form of Nick Cageao, Mutoid Man are here with Bleeder, an arse-ripper of an album that not only captures the essence of rock n’ roll, but also roundhouse kicks it in the face, Kung Fury-style.
Speaking of roundhouse kicks, album opener “Bridgeburner” does just that. A low, rumbling bass is succeeded by a thunder of drums, a punky, melodic riff and twin guitar harmonies, creating something that is akin to an Iron Maiden song on crack. In fact, the entire ride of Bleeder is essentially the sonic equivalent of Iron Maiden and Captain Beyond facing off in a cosmic space battle of epic proportions. At times, Mutoid Man sounds like a band straight out of the prime era of psychedelic rock, and at others they channel the chaotic hardcore sounds of Koller’s stint in Converge. However, this is all carried by catchy melodies and flesh-tugging, borderline pop hooks which only a musician like Brodsky could bring to the table, effectively making Mutoid Man a jack-of-all-trades in the metal and hardcore sector. This is a huge part of their appeal, and precisely what makes them stand out from the rest of the pack.
Songwriting like that found on Bleeder is hard to come by. Mutoid Man perfectly balance heaviness with catchiness, succinctness and complexity, a formula that isn’t seen much in metal these days and frankly, is refreshing. Pop music is generally shat upon within metal circles, but if there’s one thing that pop artists do well, it’s the ability to write songs that aren’t easily forgotten, and more metal bands would do well to take a page from that book and apply it to their own music. Mutoid Man aren’t afraid to tastefully incorporate pop elements into their songs, and they thrive because of it. Songs such as “Sweet Ivy” and “Beast” are prime examples of this, ripe with hooks and memorable melodies, but never sacrificing any of the adept musicianship, shredding or insanity that’s such a prominent staple of Mutoid Man’s music.
That’s not to say, however, that Bleeder is all rock and no talk. Sure, most of the songs are surefire bangers, but the album ends on a more somber note, at least for Mutoid Man, with the title track. This showcases a different side of Mutoid Man, one that’s more decidedly more atmospheric and spacey than the rest of their output, but no less awesome. Brodsky’s voice lends itself well to a song such as “Bleeder”, calling to mind Jupiter-era Cave In, and it also stands as the longest song on the album at nearly six minutes. It only further proves the undeniable talent of Mutoid Man and their uncanny ability to play a variety of musical styles within the metal/hardcore framework. They somehow manage to always pull it off with finesse and power, much like Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits. When all’s said and done, Bleeder is an intense, addicting and downright fun listen, and is likely to be counted among the best albums of the year.
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Mutoid Man’s Bleedergets…