2013 has seen the release of some truly massive albums. Everything from the massive sounding (Ulcerate’s Vermis) to the massively ambitious (Kayo Dot’s Hubardo), this year has been appreciative of grandiose, high-risk compositions.
With that said, Mutoid Man’s arrival couldn’t be more perfectly timed. Helium Head consists of seven quickfire bursts of hardcore-driven, psychedelic pop metal that somehow manages to combine unrelenting heaviness with pop hooks and a good dose of prog-rock madness thrown in for good measure. It sounds like a lot to take in but Stephen Brodsky and Ben Koller masterfully execute their vision by providing absolute cohesion to the project’s aesthetic.
Mutoid Man seem intent on putting a little bit of fun into the darkness we’ve become accustomed to with extreme music. Much like their peers in Torche, Mutoid Man are a zany, entertaining and highly enjoyable act who just want to sound like they’re loving what they do. Everything from the band name (a reference to the 1990 arcade game, Smash TV), to the trippy artwork, to the extremely well performed cover of 'Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood' by The Animals (humorously appearing here as 'The Manimals') accurately conveys this attitude and prevents Mutoid Man from being just another novelty act.
'Gnarcissist' begins proceedings, sounding like an energetic Queens of the Stone Age track, and proves to be the perfect introduction to the rest of the songs here. 'Scavengers' continues the trend and it isn’t until the last thirty seconds of 'Scrape the Walls' that the origins of the two band members come to the fore, with a flurry of harsh vocals and chaotic drumming reminding us that these are members of Converge and Cave In we’re talking about here. This all culminates in the sheer head-bashing of 'Lost in the Hive', by far the heaviest and fastest track on the album, before Helium Head comes to a blissful close with the aforementioned bonus track, 'The Manimals'.
Mutoid Man is just what this year needed; something fun and unusual to counter the darkness and oppression surrounding us. There are doses of that here too... but Mutoid Man just grows another limb and smashes them into a pulp. Just like in the video game.