Like a short, sharp, stabbing of hardcore, ‘Melt Your Mind’ comes at the listener with fast paced drums and bass setting up the flurry of attacks by the guitar. Brodsky’s vocals charge in with a scream before confidently singing “Feel the heat of a fire at your feet rising up one smoke-ring at a time, in this life we all get left behind so maybe, it’s gonna work out fine. Take it from me – don’t let it melt your mind.” Appropriate metal imagery has been reforged to bring positive balance to the thrashing instruments throughout and the album feels like an uplifting assault that sweeps the listener away with it. I can imagine crowds cheering and singing along to the line “Blow! Blow me a kiss of death” (‘Kiss of Death’).
In 2005 Cave In collaborated with Ben Koller from Converge on a two song single split ‘Shapeshifter / Dead Already’ and for the most part, this is where Brodsky and Koller decided to pick up from when they started jamming again in 2012. In 2013 the duo released the EP Helium Head, followed up in 2016 by Bleeder. Heart palpitating, unleashed fury is the best way to describe the music on these releases. It’s like the ugly offspring of hardcore and thrash metal who doesn’t care what you think but still wants to lift you up into the flames of rejuvenation.
‘Micro Aggression’ continues the bold attack while ‘Date with the Devil’ is a fun tale that ends with “Came inside her, Satan’s daughter; nine months later, who’s the father? Another day drags, tail between her legs.” Brodsky doesn’t discuss how the date came about, but the results are warning enough.
‘Irons in the Fire’ begins like an ode to both Iron Maiden and Metallica before quickly bringing back the thrash to remind the listener that this isn’t mainstream Heavy Metal here, it’s pure Metalcore!
‘Open Flame’ is a sleeper stand out that felt much like the rest of the album until I sat down and had a good listen to the song. “I tasted open flame, my tongue burned off again” rushes through two verses to get us to a bridge with pounding drums, and here the song breaks down with a guitar figure that feels like the protagonist has taken a much needed breather in preparation for the finale.
With Bleeder I felt there was a focus more on the rock and the melody, but on War Moans, while melody is still intact, the thrash has been brought to the forefront and propels everything forward with even more intensity. When the music slows down on the final track ‘Bandages’, that intensity is felt even more as Brodsky pines “Bandages on me – I’m wounded in love; Bandages on me – to cut off the blood.” A cutting guitar figure interplays with the bass over a trippy atmospheric backing, and distinctive vocals always make lines like “Scare, in the shape of my face, a version of me falling free” always feel heartfelt and sincere.
In a world where albums are getting unnecessarily longer to gain hit-counts on streaming websites, Mutoid Man reminds us at a mere 40 minutes the importance of not wearing out the listener by keeping songs at a 3-4 minute length and packing every second with tight playing, massive riffs and catchy melodies. I can’t personally claim to like this more than Bleeder, but that’s just my own taste and perhaps a bit more variety on the tempo and riff front on the previous album, but War Moans has everything that a listener of melodic metalcore could want: Riffs are furious, chords burn, bass thumps, drums pound, and vocals soar.
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