Warning: About two and a half minutes into “Bridgeburner”, the opener for Mutoid Man’s latest album Bleeder, this glorious melee of riffs and drums bombards listeners ears and may cause sudden uncontrollable headbanging.
Okay, now that that bit of unpleasantness is over we can get to the meat and potatoes of this review. You think you know Mutoid Man??? You’re wrong! Because not only are they back with a new album, they’re also back with a new bandmate! That’s right! Joining guitarist/vocalist Steve Brodsky and drummer Ben Koller this time around is bassist Nick Cageao who adds another dimension to not only the aforementioned opening number (Man, that beginning bass line is gnarly!) but to the whole of Bleeder.
Mutoid Man continually display the technical efficiency of Cave In without the prog (and way heavier) and a poppier Converge. Maybe this is Verge-In fully realized? But whatever other group you want to compare them to, there’s no denying their sheer originality and impact on the heavy music scene (Again, that breakdown in “Bridgeburner” OWNS!)
This time around, they’re reaching for the stars and going for new heights of excellence. Brodsky, who is already one of the greatest vocalists of the last ten or fifteen years, just pushes his range to a new level on “Reptilian Soul” where one minute he’s utilizing a beautiful angelic falsetto, another he goes for some sustained whispers, and another he’s confidently belting out choruses. And let’s not forget his scream or guitar prowess which both are undeniable forces on this record (“Deadlock” is one of many screamy/guitar slaying highlights).
Then there’s Koller whom I can only imagine is a tornado of arms and hands as he recreates the sound of thunder during “Sweet Ivy” or a flurry of limbs on “1000 Mile Stare” which shifts between these focused attacks and chaotic fills with a thrashfest of an ending. “Soft Spot in My Skull”, meanwhile, shows off Koller’s skill even more and the tightness of this trio as they switch from ludicrous speeds, settle into a nice mid-tempo groove, and then go fast again. But if you’re here simply because you need to rock the fuck out then “Surveillance” and “Beast” have you covered! The former is a sonic whirlwind of echoed vox and guitar squeals while the latter is, ahem, a beast. But seriously, “Beast” annihilates as Cageao thumps away with frenetic aplomb.
Bleeder is out through Sargent House on June 30th. Pre-orders are up now here.