When Mutoid Man came crashing into the world at million unexpected miles an hour last year with the Helium Head mini-LP, they did it the old-fashioned way: with breakneck energy, stellar musicianship, a wry sense of humour (check out the cover art) and, most importantly, a pack of well written songs with stadium sized riffs and colossal choruses.
In fact, I remember conversing with a friend on the topic of Helium Head and him, in the throes of our discussion, busting out loud and clear on the chorus of lead-off track “Gnarcissist,” my asking what he thought of the rest of the record, and he revealing that said song had been the only one he’d heard from the band to that point. And, as if to sweeten the pot and offer more inadvertent evidence of the overall infectious nature within, he informed me that at the time he’d only heard the song once online a few weeks prior. Now, if that ain’t some catchy shit, I don’t know what is!
It’s hard to say if there’s anything as deep hooking as that on the trio’s debut full-length, but the spirit of Helium Head lives and breathes here, and there are a few moments of difference to add to the experience and demonstrate that Steve (Cave-In) Brodsky, Ben (Converge) Koller and Nick (sound dude at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus Bar) Cageao aren’t a one-trick pony.
If you look at the principle figures of guitarist/vocalist Brodsky and drummer Koller involved – no offence to any of Cageao’s past accomplishments – the worlds from where they emerged and consider the years of growth that have happened naturally and musically since Until Your Heart Stops and Jane Doe, Bleeder makes perfect sense. Those leaping pull-off-hammer-on flares that Brodsky makes a huge part of Mutoid Man’s backbone are electrifying and closing the gap between classic rock deep cuts and guitar swinging metallic hardcore.
Where the guitars seem less reckless on Bleeder than they did on Helium Head, Brodsky also eases up on the harsh vocals, but still produces equal amounts of intensity and ear-snagging moments. “Sweet Ivy” is a perfect example; it’s like the band injected an entire MLB team’s steroid regiment into psychedelic rock in one afternoon with Koller matching every bit of movement with his decathlete’s style of tastefully pummelling his entire kit at once. Bleeder sees the band expanding upon their repertoire with different directions explored in “Soft Spot in My Skull” which is like part Killing is My Business… Megadeth, part Jupiter-era Cave-In and part rocking jazz punk, first single “Bridgeburner”s slinky transitions are erudite and sharply curvaceous while “Dead Dreams” sees everyone in full on punishing mode, especially Cageao’s bass offering up a colossal wall of brown note low-end.
The more songs Mutoid Man write, the more it seems that they are resolving their reckless youth and early punk and hardcore influences with their musical growth and maturity; where they succeed is retaining that vigour of youth. That sublime combination allows for a controlled burn in area that's probably end up as directionless chaos in the hands of someone who doesn’t see the parallels between The Who and Botch.