Mutoid Man – the brainchild of Steve Brodsky (guitar, Cave In), Ben Koller (drums, Converge, All Pigs Must Die), and Nick Cageao (bass) – pushes metal’s villainous pageantry to vaudevillian levels. Initially meant to be an exercise in flexing the creative chops outside of the members’ other projects, debut EP Helium Head (2013) and critically-acclaimed sophomore album Bleeder (2015) have confirmed that Mutoid Man is an imposing force regardless of their pedigree. On the band’s forthcoming album, War Moans (June 2nd, Sargent House), Mutoid Man bask in their love of frantic, ferocious, no-frills metal; no riff deemed too extreme, no drum pattern considered too absurd. From the chugging bass line and guitar trills that kick off album opener “Melt Your Mind” Mutoid Man sets a precedent of divine instrumentation and unholy riffs on War Moans.
The beginning of the writing process for War Moans was marked by a fortuitous setback. While touring on Bleeder, Mutoid Man learned their rehearsal space was the latest victim of gentrification in Brooklyn. Their equipment was relocated to the basement of Cageo’s work, the renowned metal club St Vitus. Practices were held on the club’s stage during the venue’s off-hours. It’s fitting that War Moans was born in a room that has not only hosted intimate appearances by bands like Carcass, Megadeth, and a one-off Cobain-less Nirvana, but has also become a second home to the city’s many up-and-coming punk and metal bands. Fittingly, you can hear vestiges of big-name acts’ precision mixed in with the scrappy underground bands’ raw tenacity and unbridled hunger in Mutoid Man’s latest offering. On War Moans, Mutoid Man recruited friends from all over the musical spectrum to join them; “Irons in the Fire” finds Cave In compatriot Adam McGrath lending guitar heft to a megalith anthem,”Melt Your Mind” instantly recalls The Big Four, with thrash icon Marty Friedman further cementing the vibe by lending a blazing guitar solo, and grim folk luminary Chelsea Wolfe and her longtime collaborator Ben Chisholm lend vocals and auxiliary instrumentation to the goth-inflected “Wreck and Survive”, as well as the album’s harrowing closing track, “Bandages.”
Since their inception, Mutoid Man’s live shows have been exercises in showmanship, with the requisite headbanger gymnastics morphing into Van Halen-esque panache and hardcore-basement-show prankery. On War Moans, the band’s stage one-upmanship carries over to their songcraft, yielding an album of ridiculously savage hooks and next-level dexterity.