War Moans by Mutoid ManRelease date: June 2, 2017
Label: Sargent House
I might be biased with my feelings toward Mutoid Man, being an avid fan of Stephen Brodsky’s seminal back-catalogue with Cave In and Ben Koller’s unmatched drumming in some of modern metal’s finest acts, including everything from Converge to All Pigs Must Die. So, when 2013’s Helium Head EP came into fruition – presenting the musician’s new jacked-up and hyperactive sonic beast – I was more than anticipating having a new project to follow. This debut was raw and raging, fuelled by a concoction of stoner rock, thrash and punk with as many riffs as they could cram in. Above all else, the record sounded like the members had a hell of a time making it. This transferred over to the 2015 LP Bleeder, which by this point any fan of their associated acts probably knows quite well. This blistering, triumphant fire-storm saw the Mutoid Man name become far more solidified as a project that was bound to grow and develop. On War Moans, that’s exactly what the band have nailed, and it’s defined it as their finest hour.
Somehow, on this effort, the band managed to write even catchier songs whilst keeping the instrumentation as visceral as ever. ‘Melt Your Mind’ is a blitz of guitars and drums, carried by Brodsky’s signature smooth vocal tone that carries the momentum. The rapid pace continues straight through to ‘Micro Aggression’, a track that features everything from chaotic guitar leads akin to the Converge playbook to some of Brodsky’s catchiest vocals; all the while the listener is punished by the constantly firing pistons of Koller’s drum work.
‘Kiss of Death’ and ‘Date with the Devil’ both take the foot off the break briefly, but show explicitly that the band remain consistent with their tongue-in-cheek and erotic themes on the album that seem to comment on sexuality. The former of these two is a seductive change of pace, with the lyrical refrain of “Blow me” making for an infectious cut emphasized by the bluesy change in instrumentation. Towards the back end of the record, the pace switches again to reveal how the band has fully come into their own. ‘Open Flame’ is a huge highlight for me, with a longer run-time the band can craft a varied structure, starting with a blitz of riffs and drums before breaking down into slower grooves that allow for another infectious hook. The track plays out with an atmospheric passage that accelerates into an almost exultant bludgeoning of melody. ‘Bandages’ is the perfect closer and one of the most beautiful tracks under the bands belt, aided by an undeniable, ethereal vocal contribution from label-mate Chelsea Wolfe. The track pulls tropes from Cave In and in the best way possible, with explosive choruses and elated instrumentation.
All I have to give is praise to this record, not only is it an expertly crafted showcase for the musicianship of the people behind it, but it also manages to remain unstoppably heavy and avoid being totally serious in themes, as is the case with a lot of modern metal. I can’t recommend it enough.