Mutoid Man – War MoansThe sound of Mutoid Man is not something easily explained. The best I can come up with is “’80s metal mashed up with Nintendo game music, but with more hooks and a ton of guitar effects.” Formed in NYC by Boston expats Steve Brodsky (Cave In) and Ben Koller (Converge), Mutoid has cranked out two and a half albums of catchy, hyperactive metal within a short span of time. 2015’s excellent Bleeder gained some recognition here at AMG, and now the band returns with that crucial third album, entitled War Moans.

Opening cuts “Melt Your Mind” and “Bone Chain” are all sugar-coated melodies beneath a crunchy shell of aggressive drums and distorted bass. If Voivod and Muse joined forces to drink entire cases of Tenafly Viper, the result would probably sort of sound like this. The word “immediate” comes to mind, as most of the album’s tracks clock in at under three minutes, and don’t waste much time getting their point across.

“Kiss Of Death” is another winner, with Brodsky laying another massive vocal hook over riffs that recall Morbid Angel‘s sludgier moments. The song’s chorus is an exercise in both ridiculousness and anticipation:

“Blow!” (pause)
“Blow me” (longer, more awkward pause)
“Blow me a kiss” (never mind, I see where he’s going with this)
“Blow me a kiss of death”

Title track “War Moans” is a salute to Seasons In The Abyss-era Slayer, with Koller channeling Dave Lombardo while Brodsky, aided by effects pedals, plays the Hannemann and King roles simultaneously. Just when I’m thinking that this song could not rule any harder, Marty-goddamn-Friedman (ex-Megadeth) drops in to scorch the earth with some Countdown To Extinction-esque legato runs. My inner 14-year-old squealed with glee upon hearing this song, while present-day me nearly crashed the car from headbanging so hard.

The rest of the tracks may not quite warrant the same level of hyperbole, but are solid nonetheless.”Irons in The Fire” is alternately doomy and spazzed-out and features a guitar assist by Brodsky’s Cave In bandmate, Adam McGrath. “Open Flame” hints at ’80s metal even more than the other tracks, and features some clever variations on the song’s closing motif.

Mutoid Man 2017
“Date With The Devil” describes such a date in pretty graphic terms, ending with what must have been an interesting night for Brodsky, and a Maury Povich-type scenario nine months later. While the lyrics are not as funny as the band probably thinks they are, the seasick riffage beneath is deadly serious.

The biggest surprise, though, is closing track “Bandages.” Here, Brodsky is in his vulnerable singer-songwriter guy mode, atop a sparse guitar arpeggio that vaguely recalls latter-day Van Halen. The song gradually builds to a powerful, anthemic chorus, followed by an arena-worthy guitar solo. Add in some ethereal backing vocals by Chelsea Wolfe, and I’ve got my imaginary lighter hoisted high in the air. In another world, “Bandages” would have easily been the best Cave In song of this century. In Mutoid Man‘s realm, it’s unexpectedly mature and shows a willingness to push the band into more serious territory when necessary.

As Converge‘s activities seem to be slowing down, and Cave In is all but finished, Mutoid Man seems to be a viable outlet for Brodsky and Koller’s continued output. If War Moans has a flaw, it’s that the highlight tracks are so good that they overshadow the rest of the record. Whether this is a problem or not is debatable. Regardless, War Moans is just as fucking ridiculous as the band’s previous material (if not more so), but with just enough focus and maturity to keep things moving forward.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 280 kbps MP3
Label: Sargent House |
Releases Worldwide: June 2nd, 2017

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  • Frost15
    • contenderizer

      Me too. Needs tongue.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    I read Morgan Freeman at first and still thought it was cool…

    • Name’s Dalton

      Oooooh Andy…

  • Ironwood_Druid

    This and the new Danzig cover art should go in a two-pack.

    • Michael Saurette

      Hell no. This one actually looks good, the Danzig one looks like a high school kids attempt at a comic book

  • That cover! :-D Still, this album is pretty good, but the Cave In fan in me screams for a new Cave In album. They had gold in their hands around the time when Jupiter and Antenna came out…

    • Dr_Fisting

      I absolutely LOVED Jupiter, and even liked Antenna — but if White Silence is any indication, Cave In is not exactly at the top of their game right now. Much prefer Mutoid Man instead.

  • Kronos

    Great review. Where the fuck is a new converge album anyway? The last two are downright classics.

    • The Akerstache

      They’re supposedly to start work after the end of their next tour.


    • Jm from nj

      They have been in the studio. Ben Koller has instagrame-d pictures.

  • Hammersmith

    I like these guys but they always start off their albums with the best track and then the rest is good but slightly disappointing.

  • John

    Just fyi they are playing SubT 6/9 for all the Chicagoans out there.

    • That might be the day I’m leaving Chicago, which is a damn shame. Would be better to see them at SubT than Reggie’s.

      • John

        Living outside of Chicago, I much prefer to go to Reggie’s because it’s plain old easier to get through the annoying traffic. Easiest venue to get to for me. At least House of Blues is easy to get to if you go by train, just a bit of a walk. Metro is definitely the worst though. I wanted to see Katatonia, but then I saw it was on the same day as a Cubs game and said nope.

        • Dealing w Metro during a Cubs game is awful. I don’t have a car, so I mostly just delay arrival at that point, but I know I’ve even heard of shows getting moved from Metro because of Cubs games. Reggie’s just gets me because it almost always has terrible sound mixing.

    • Dr_Fisting

      See you there.

    • GrimStilt

      I live in Milwaukee and hate going all the way to Chicago for shows, but still go :/ Now I was happy that I could see Gorguts in MKE instead of Chicago on 6/9 but now not so much

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Blow me *it’s not a pause, I’m waiting… *

  • Hall Awaits

    Wasn’t really feeling the vocals at first, but love them now. Just solid, well written riff metal.

  • Ferrous Beuller

    This thing is just so much fun. I was surprised by Bandages – great song and album .

  • Luke_22

    Can’t get enough of this. Pure zany, riff-driven fun with hooks for days. Extra cred for the Chelsea Wolfe collab. Nice review.

  • I agree with a lot of this, but would personally rate it higher. This is my current album of the year. Love it.

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    I agree with the Doc about the best tracks overshadowing everything else. The entire album is pretty good front to back, but there are really only a handful of songs that I constantly repeat.

    Also, I miss Cave In terribly and hope they’re not actually dead…

  • Tofu muncher

    just when I thought I could spend a peaceful Monday spinning Mari Hamada hard,I had to go to AMG and read this.

  • Feytalist

    Those lyrics are just a more crass version of Rammstein’s Du Hast, aren’t they.

  • xengineofdeathx

    Fucking sweet album, Brodsky is a riff machine. Can’t wait for the new Converge just to see what Ben does on the drums next.

  • h_f_m

    I’m really liking this album. Thanks for this.

  • Loved Bleeder and wasn’t totally sold on this record on first listen, but saw them play many of the new songs live the last two nights (plus a scorching Purple Rain cover) and it was just a great time. Definitely a band that is best experienced live, and don’t let the occasional goofiness distract you from the excellent hooks.

  • Tucker Etnoyer

    You assies, this is AOTY material!