Sarabeth Linden - Guest Vocals on "Bleeder" Kevin Baker - Guest Vocals on "Dead Dreams"
Pre-production by Jell Filmer at Best Rehearsal Studios, Long Island City, NY, October-December 2014. Produced, Engineered, and Mixed in 9 days by Kurt Ballou at God City, Salem, MA, January 2015. Mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege Engineering
Santos - Cover illustration Nick Sherman - Layout and Typography
There was a buzz about Mutoid Man before they ever even took the stage. Like many ‘members-of’ projects, there was an automatic interest in what heady metal luminaries Steve Brodsky (Cave In) and Ben Koller (Converge, All Pigs Must Die) were working on in their tiny Brooklyn practice space. By the time they played their first show in the fall of 2013, their debut EP was already recorded and off at the vinyl pressing plant. And while many side projects maintain a brief lifespan by piquing the interest of their primary bands’ fans, Mutoid Man achieved the rare feat of not only holding that interest, but also drawing in a new audience from outside their established circles. Given a spin of their Helium Head 12” or a glimpse of their rare live performance, it’s no wonder that Brodsky and Koller were able to ascend beyond their side-project novelty status. This is no self-indulgent sonic experiment, no tepid throwaway-track recycling project, no musical 180° into cringe-worthy territory. Instead, Mutoid Man offers up the best of Brodsky and Koller’s respective worlds. Brodsky distills the melodicism and metallurgy of Cave In into a concentrated elixir of frantic fretboard work, big riffs, and undeniable vocal hooks. Koller continues to batter his drums with unmatched force and dexterity. With the recruitment of bassist Nick Cageao and his driving low-end growl, Mutoid Man quickly established themselves as one of the dominant new power trios in the world of heavy music.
While Helium Head wasn’t a severe sonic departure from its makers’ previous endeavors, it still offered up a kind of frenzied excitement and ecstatic energy that was new territory for its members. With their debut full-length, Bleeder, Mutoid Man proves that the euphoric fury of their EP was no fluke. Recorded by Kurt Ballou at God City Studios, Bleeder builds upon the triumphant barrage of Helium Head with bigger production, increased ferocity, and the bolstered confidence from writing as a three-piece unit. The band storms out of the gate with “Bridgeburner”, a galloping blitzkrieg of NWOBHM guitar leads, hardcore tempos, and a pummeling climax of bottom-heavy riffage. The album continues on like a gluttonous orgy of every metal indulgence the band has held since junior high school. It’s as if there was an amalgam of all these realms of heavy rock music that hadn’t yet been attempted, and Mutoid Man have nailed it with such precision that it comes across like a grand epiphany. “Reptilian Soul” and “Sweet Ivy” marry the warped guitar lines of the Hydra Head catalog to balls-to-the-wall rock choruses; “1000 Mile Stare” and “Soft Spot In My Skull” pair Robert Fripp-level prog shredding against a virulent strain of thrash metal; “Surveillance” and “Deadlock” showcase Koller’s lightning-fast blast beats against thunderous drop-tuned riffs; “Dead Dreams” beefs up sludge metal to cataclysmic proportions. By the time the band reaches the closing track “Bleeder”, they’ve blown through so many breeds of maleficence that they can effortlessly jump between power-metal balladry, apocalyptic doom, and Dio-era Sabbath.
Mutoid Man was initially meant to be an exercise in flexing the creative chops outside of the members’ other projects. But if Helium Head proved that this musical diversion was serious business, Bleeder confirms that Mutoid Man are an imposing force regardless of their pedigree. Written in concentrated flurries between their other musical duties, Bleeder exudes the short bursts of manic energy that typified their creative process. There is no time to sit and ponder the bigger picture, no reason to search for subtlety—once the album launches into the first riff of “Bridgeburner”, there is no surrender, no apologies, and no relenting until the final crash and chug of the closing title track. Clocking in at just under half-an-hour, Bleeder seizes upon the same concentrated ferocity of classics like Reign In Blood. And with songs as good as these, Bleeder is sure to become a classic in its own right.
Notable Reviews & Features // Bleeder
“Featuring Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky, Converge’s Ben Koller, and bassist Nick Cageao, Mutoid Man’s sound is that of a band having a blast dismantling and reassembling all of their influences. The galloping rhythm of opening track Bridgeburner is pure NWOBHM, whilst Beast fuses hardcore onto the insane guitar work of Megadeth’s Rust In Peace. Bleeder is far from simple homage however; there’s real invention at play here. Deadlock’s lightning quick shredding, blastbeats and shifts in pace are beautifully executed, highlighting the band’s dexterity and ability to straddle genres with aplomb. The slow-burn, emotional thrum of the title track shows a different side to the band, but when they get their heads down and concentrate on thrashing it out, as they do on Sweet Ivy, it’s unlikely anything will sound as much fun all year.” - Rock A Rolla, Issue 55
“Their first full-length, ‘Bleeder,’ is equal parts musical acrobatics and strong songwriting that strikes an off-kilter balance somewhere between Queens of the Stone Age and The Dillinger Escape Plan. After a couple listens to ‘Bridgeburner’ and ‘Sweet Ivy,’ listeners just might find themselves singing along—even as they marvel at the multitude of abrupt tempo shifts.” - 4/5, Revolver
“Mutoid Man took the best of both of its forebears and parlayed it into an altogether new ethos - together with bassist Nick Cageao - producing a fiery, nasty, riff-filled metal and punk fest of unstoppable, unbeatable energy.” 8/10, Decibel July 2015 Issue
“At only 29 minutes and change, Bleeder goes by in a seeming blur the first time through. But there is simply so much going on in its ever-changing (never boring) musical landscape that it will likely take a dozen listens to fully absorb it all. Ballou's production adds to both the ambition and achievement of execution in Mutoid Man's attack. Bleeder is one of the best outsider metal albums of the year.” - 4/5, All Music
“Bleeder’s greatest strength, though, is in its wholehearted embrace of both numbskull hard rock and cerebral progressive metal, at a time when the two approaches have become almost mutually exclusive in heavy music. The album’s title track—which, at six minutes, is twice as long as any other song on the filler-free disc—simmers, lunges, and edges toward the dissonantly psychedelic, even as it throws off a chunky post-hardcore vibe. Like Red-era King Crimson after botched brain surgery, or the Mars Volta after the miraculous intervention of an impeccable editor, Mutoid Man merges highbrow fretboard architecture with immediacy, punch, and a merciless severity.” - Pitchfork
"More than just a handful of heavy songs, Bleeder relies on the experience and will to explore of its players. This is the sound of heavy rock in 2015. Another breath of fresh air in a genre that sometimes is more than happy with its own redundancy and stiffness." - 8/10, Music & Riots June 2015 Issue
“Conceived as an excuse for Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky and Converge’s Ben Koller to indulge in their wildest metal excesses, there’s a frazzled joy to be found in Mutoid Man’s ‘throw everything at the wall’ schtick – a surfeit of ideas that dazzle before quickly going supernova. Essentially, Bleeder is brutally smart, and pretty damn thrilling with it.” 4/5, The Skinny
“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.” - 8.5/10, Metal Injection
“Mutoid Man are definitely a supergroup, in all senses of the word. Formed by Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky and Converge’s Ben Koller, the trio (completed by Nick Cageao) not only have serious pedigree but also a claim to having made the best heavy debut album of 2015 to date. ‘Bleeder’, which follows ‘Helium Head’, last year’s EP, is only 29 minutes long and nothing goes to waste here. Brodsky’s work in Cave In was always dominated by attempts to refine progressive ideas in a concise, almost post-progressive musical setting, and it’s this that really comes to the fore on ‘Bleeder’. Everything is played at a hundred miles an hour – with Koller’s drumming as ferocious as ever – but there are ideas to spare: riffs that are only given a brief piece of the limelight, thrash breakdowns that dissipate into massive choruses and huge nods to classic rock. It’s brash, bold and, more importantly, one of the most enjoyable things you'll have heard in years.” - Stereoboard
“Bleeder is the sound of a band bottling everything fun and blissful about metal/hardcore/rock, shaking it up and let it spurt out all over the place. Not only have Mutoid Man pulled out one of the most jaw dropping and exhilarating metal/hardcore records released in a long, long time they’ve also put out a record that stands up to anything either of its more famous band members have ever put their name to. Given the names involved there can be no higher praise.” - Echoes and Dust
“Songwriting like that found on Bleeder is hard to come by. Mutoid Man perfectly balance heaviness with catchiness, succinctness and complexity, a formula that isn’t seen much in metal these days and frankly, is refreshing. Pop music is generally shat upon within metal circles, but if there’s one thing that pop artists do well, it’s the ability to write songs that aren’t easily forgotten, and more metal bands would do well to take a page from that book and apply it to their own music. Mutoid Man aren’t afraid to tastefully incorporate pop elements into their songs, and they thrive because of it. Songs such as “Sweet Ivy” and “Beast” are prime examples of this, ripe with hooks and memorable melodies, but never sacrificing any of the adept musicianship, shredding or insanity that’s such a prominent staple of Mutoid Man’s music.” - 4.5/5, Heavy Blog Is Heavy
“Move over arena alternative rock bands, Mutoid Man offers nothing but fiery guitar licks with a vast majority of influences to include in their repertoire of talent. Bleeder is an incredible album full of diverse tracks that prove being heavy does not need breakdowns. Instead, just the right amount of tenacity and chaos are fused together with vivacious passion to make one of the best albums to be released during the first half of 2015.” - Yell Magazine
“Mutoid Man certainly harkens back to earlier eras in heavy metal history, with occasional Rob Halford-like screams for vengeance on “Surveillance” and guitar solos to make Adrian Smith proud, but they remain modern enough to avoid sounding dated, pushing them closer to the sonic terrain of the prog-metalheads in Mastodon and Kylesa. Each song balances that fine line between unhinged aggression and consuming chaos, the technical prowess of the musicians serving as the only thing keeping the fury reasonably contained. The hardcore ending of “1000 Mile Stare” is a perfect example – superb drumming and throbbing bass keep the tune from spiraling into pure noise with the guttural vocal delivery leading the listener down a terrifying wormhole that presumably leads to hell.” - Best New Bands
“Bleeder sounds like putting on your coolest leather jacket and taking the bike for a spin. I never really thought that “technical, hardcore-tinged arena rock” could be a thing, but here I am trying to figure out how to headbang to the odd time signatures behind some of the catchiest guitar leads this side of Motley Crue.” - Invisible Oranges
“Bleeder is a celebration of everything we enjoy about the more aggressive fringes of our beloved heavy metal. It’s a crucible of prog, math, death, and thrash, with tantalising trickles of doom. This contorted musical ejaculation is marvellous and sticky, but also brash and abrasive, so for the love of Christ don’t get it in your eyes – but do remember the tissues.” - The Monolith
“I like to think that Koller’s drumming is what’s keeping Brodsky’s Rock rooted in the 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, and by far the longest at 5:54 minutes. Taking almost two minutes to build up from a slow yet excruciatingly foreboding beginning, to a thunderous high pitch voice that sounds like it is being ripped from the depths of the soul yelling “Bleeder – I’m your open wound” before 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 the opening of the first track ‘Bridgeburner’ only taking a slower tempo to smash all the accents into your skull.” - 8/10, Soundblab
“Collectively, there’s a fast flowing legerity that hurls the record’s quality skywards; by now these guys are seasoned pros and they make sure to dazzle you through the peppering of blistering instrumental breaks and anthemic singing all the while never allowing their music to be showmanship over necessity. It’s entertaining as hell and each member is damnably insane at their respective instrument, but everything you hear is driven by the desire and purpose for the song to be entertaining rather than a vehicle for flexing their muscles.” - The Sludgelord
“A kaleidoscopic array of technicolor sludge and huge hooks, Bleeder is the summer metal record your non-metal friends have been begging you to find, infused with just enough legacy status and manic, octave pedal-enhanced shredding to keep the TRVE heshers from complaining.” - Free Williamsburg
“Brodsky makes his ax speak the language of Rush’s prog jams, Clutch’s funky doom, Skynyrd’s Southern heartache, Mastodon’s imposing sludge and Botch’s devastatingly efficient mathcore. Of course schizophrenic prog-metal bands are a dime a dozen these days. What makes Mutoid Man special isn’t even the speed at which Brodsky delivers all of these influences. No, what makes Mutoid Man special is actually Brodsky’s skill as a songwriter. Brodsky has a bit of a thing for trepanning (the act of drilling a hole in the skull); Cave In had a song with that title, and Bleeder features “Soft Spot in my Skull,” which makes a lot of sense given that Brodsky also has a knack for delivering unshakable earworms.” - Metroland