Friday, 22 May 2015

Mutoid Man - 'Bleeder' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 30/06/2015
Label: Sargent House

‘Bleeder’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Bridgeburner
2. Reptilian Soul
3. Sweet Ivy
4. 1000 Mile Stare
5. Surveillance
6. Beast
7. Dead Dreams
8. Soft Spot In My Skull
9. Deadlock
10. Bleeder

Mutoid Man is

Stephen Brodsky | vocals, guitar
Ben Koller | drums
Nick Cageao | bass


The potential of what Mutoid Man could be was blindingly apparent on 2014’s ‘Helium Head’ EP; that frivolous and frantic rock n’ roll energy that makes you want to both hug everyone one around you and destroy everything within a 50 mile radius was rife across its teasingly short-lived span. It resembled the first flickering spark to this Steve Brodsky (Cave In) and Ben Koller (Converge) collaboration but what it didn’t do however, was foreshadow how brightly, just 12 months later, the fire formed from that initial spark would spread and burn. Back then they were simply a two piece, but with the addition of Nick Cageao on bass, ‘Bleeder’ comes across as an altogether more inspired and alluring release. Although their improvement cannot be shouldered entirely by Cageao, time has been as much a contributing factor to their blossoming future than anything else.

A ménage a trois of chaotic boogie rock, heavy tonalities and honey-sweet vocal hooks, once the dirty bass line of ‘Bridgeburner’ made itself known unto me, it snowballed dramatically. It infected me. They kick out the jams and build on that early momentum with every track, making sure there is always a snake in the grass along the way to keep your interest and excitement piqued; culminating with Brodsky’s stunning and impassioned holler on the closing title track.

Indeed many of the songs across the record come off as if written on the fly; they have an inherent and free-spirited, primeval stomp about them, but I think these songs are a little more premeditated than their unshackled appearances may seem. Just look at the nature of this record; this is the miscegenation of Converge’s technical, rhino charging through a mine-field sound and Cave In’s more fluent but ultimately abrasive luminosity. While it’s a marriage that works with an impressively irresistible cohesion, the bludgeoning complexity of ‘Bridgeburner’s’ chorus or ‘1000 Mile Stares’ crazed fretboard runs for instance surely couldn’t be executed as emphatically as they are without at least a hint of planning. But what they’ve managed to not only do here but master in the process, is taking the unhinged and buzzing energy of their jams and contorting them both in the directions of mind-boggling algorithmic musicality as well as a deft melodiousness that, like a siren song, encourages repeat listens which border on unhealthy obsession. It’s a godsend then that digital files can’t be worn out like vinyl.    

At times their pace and vicious musical vision is unrelenting to the point of it being almost homicidal, ‘Beast’s’ juxtaposing slow jerking, doomy broken chords and incessant double bass hammering is gloriously messy. Thematically, the likes of ‘Reptilian Soul’ and ‘Surveillance’ draw from the same shit-kicking, hammer and tongue school of thought. The prior focuses around a chorus of gritty vocals and a stabbing forcefulness while the latter boasts a whirlwind of notes that, when played through Brodsky’s octave multiplying effects pedal, sounds almost like a bangra vinyl played four times its intended speed. Collectively, there’s a fast flowing legerity that hurls the record’s quality skywards; by now these guys are seasoned pros and they make sure to dazzle you through the peppering of blistering instrumental breaks and anthemic singing all the while never allowing their music to be showmanship over necessity. It’s entertaining as hell and each member is damnably insane at their respective instrument, but everything you hear is driven by the desire and purpose for the song to be entertaining rather than a vehicle for flexing their muscles.

The standard of songs is consistently very, very high but, alas it’s that opening steam-roller which I find myself returning to like a dirty addiction. There’s just something about it. Brodsky’s utilises his pedal board excellently here to fatten his tone, more than making up for the lack of a second guitarist. Those layered octaves which sit alongside the pertinent words ‘bridges will burn, bridges burn / we’re past friends for ever’ in a way that both soothes your soul through its gorgeous compositional make up as well as invigorating the senses gives your heartbeat a kick up the arse. Post-chorus the verse riff is blanketed with a vocal-replicating harmonised guitar line which is, quite usefully for some of you older readers I’m sure, a highly effective substitute for erectile dysfunction.  

I can’t see many other records released this year being as abused as this in my music collection. It’s short, sharp and inarguably enthralling, simplistic yet over-the-top at the same time. If there’s two things in life I love it’s rock n’ roll and beautiful contrasts, this album has both of those ingredients…and it can improve the blood flow to an old man’s cock to boot.

Words: Phil Weller

‘Bleeder’ is available to buy here (USA) and here (Europe)

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