Mutoid Man - Bleeder - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mutoid Man - Bleeder

by Warwick Stubbs Rating:9 Release Date:2015-07-01

Mutoid Man is the New York trio of Stephen Brodsky from Cave In, Ben Koller of Converge, and Nick Cageao, a sound-man at the Saint Vitus bar in Brooklyn. Prior to this release, Brodsky and Koller recorded Helium Head together – a straight-up thrashy metalcore album – before Cageao jumped on board to add his thick but twisting bass licks to the mix.

At a mere 30 minutes, Bleeder feels more like a mini-album, but it packs a lot of punch while being somewhat more melodic and focussed than the first effort, which, at just over 15 minutes, wasn’t much more than an EP - although it still hit hard with its fusion of punk and metalcore thrashing. There was far less melodic content there, while Brodsky delivered the vocal screams he was known for in the early days of Cave In. On Bleeder, Brodsky foregrounds the melodic songster that graces the majority of that band’s catalogue.

As the album kicks off, the first thing you’ll notice is the massive tone of Nick Cageao’s bass on ‘Bridgeburner’. Even though there is a lot of distortion present, the bass sound remains very clear at all times through the heavy, thrashing guitars and metalcore drumming.

Brodsky’s voice is on full display as he sings “Bridges will burn, bridges will burn/ We’re past friends forever/ Someday I’ll learn, someday I’ll learn/ aka ‘never’”, and screams out “Never” again at the end just as the drums pound their way through tight and fast riffage. This stunning opener nails everything perfectly: from the bass-heavy intro, to the frantic riffing, to the melodic vocals, it is all tightly wrapped up in three minutes of not-quite metalcore.

For the most part, Brodsky has left his effects-pedals at home, the ones Cave In became well known for as Jupiter traversed the space-rock sub-genre with pitch-shifter and delay effects. However, they do make an appearance on ‘Sweet Ivy’. Everything else is short and sweet, with distorted riffs taking centre-stage, kind of along the same lines as the heavier tracks from Perfect Pitch Black, but in a less developed form.

It would have been foolish to expect a straight-up metalcore album if your are a follower of either Brodsky or Cave In. Where Helium Head was brutally on the metal side, Bleeder dips into hardcore and rock. Here at least the bass gets far more presence now that Cageao is a fully-fledged recording member of the band. Songs like ‘Beast’ and ‘Dead Dreaming’ take this hardcore approach, while ‘Reptilian Soul’ and ‘Sweet Ivy’ feel more melodic rock in their approach.

I like to think that Koller’s drumming is what’s keeping Brodsky’s rock rooted in metal, but the two sound so good together that you can’t help feeling like they are just simply feeding off all their history of crossing paths and being in the same music circles. Nothing exemplifies this more than ‘1000 Mile Stare’, which fuses and moulds rock and hardcore within moments of each other, juxtaposing the melodic singing with vocal screams with barely a moment’s notice.

‘Soft Spot in My Skull’ repeats this mixing and matching of styles, but the real standout is the title track at the end of the album, by far the longest at 5:54 minutes. It takes almost two minutes to build up from a slow yet excruciatingly foreboding beginning to a thunderous high pitch that sounds like it is being ripped from the depths of the soul, yelling “Bleeder – I’m your open wound”.

Brodsky comes in again singing “Leave you my blood, I broke my own damn heart/ Endless love, boiling from the start/ Burning my love, until we drown again.” The heaviness of this track recalls the distorted bass from first track ‘Bridgeburner’, only with a slower tempo to smash all the accents into your skull.

Personally, I always found Cave In’s version of metalcore (Until Your Heart Stops) more metal than Converge, which was mostly hardcore punk heavied up. That’s just my (generalised) opinion, but this album shows how two history-makers are able to come together and continue expanding their music by incorporating rock and melody as well. It’s certainly not perfect, but at such a short length, it’s also almost impossible to fault.

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