Mutoid Man mark a glorious return with Mutants, an album replete with great sound, decisions, and execution, once again proving why they’re unsung heroes in a genre packed with chaff.

Release date: July 28, 2023 | Sargent House | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Bandcamp

So, some lore real quick. Six years and a month ago, I joined this team, back when we went under a different name. It just so happened that’s also when Mutoid Man dropped War Moans, a bastard of an album, action-packed with so many good riffs, vocals, writing, drums, and more that I regularly return to it along with their other albums. It was the first album I reviewed and the first article I put up on the site – number one. All this time later, I’m at a very interesting milestone myself, Mutoid Man are back, and there’s no other way I’d rather spend my 501st article for Everything Is Noise than reviewing their new album.

With Nick Cageao taking a step down from bass for the band, I was a bit worried. Cageao, Steve Brodsky, and Ben Koller had a great chemistry between them, lockstep in delivering some of the rawest, catchiest punk/thrash I could ever imagine. Straight up, Mutoid Man are one of my favorite bands ever – I didn’t want their magic to dissipate. Jeff Matz of High on Fire stepped up, and I won’t be dramatic by saying a lot was riding on him, but I’m sure even he felt some pressure to do right by the band’s high energy, which was quite different from High on Fire‘s more stoned-out doom. Well, let’s just say things are a-okay after hearing Mutants an unspecified number of times.

I will say this: if you were at all put off by the singles from Mutants, please know they’re the weakest tracks on the album, but they gain new life in the greater context of the album. “Call of the Void” felt like a false start for a band that starts very, very strong. “Melt Your Mind” from War Moans was an absolute force to reckon with, “Bridgeburner” from Bleeder is legendarily good with its build-up and execution, and so on. But the song was still good and fits nicely in the tracklist when looped. It’s also a great track about avoiding the ‘call of the void‘, intrusive thoughts that most people seem to deal with on various levels of severity. Paired with its video’s commentary of AI takeover and an ‘animatronic’ version of the band slowly being consumed and absorbed by a greater mechanical entity that’s a not-so-subtle nod to their namesake, it’s a great song that grew on me.

The deep cuts though, that’s where Mutants really shines – like, this is some of Mutoid Man‘s best work kind of ‘shine’. “Graveyard Love” is a mach 9 love ballad akin to “Date with the Devil” that wouldn’t be out of place on an ’80s speed metal album. Part of the sauce the band has is to turn even the most mundane song premises or lyrics into sing-along-worthy soundbites, almost entirely thanks to their energy and Brodsky’s charismatic and enunciated delivery, making lyrics like ‘I’m in love with my gravekeeper/I said ‘hey, make that hole deeper‘/I’m in a casket now/Don’t even ask me how‘ more endearing and fun than they otherwise might be. That riff is godlike as well.

Mutoid Man have always walked a very fine line between punk, hardcore, and metal, and nowhere is that more apparent than here on Mutants. The last song, “Setting Sun” is packed with quick punk rhythms from Koller, a catchy and melodic hook from Brodsky that has the rest of the trio join in on back-up vox, and unending bass from Matz that’s so much more than a backbone for the track. In fact, throughout the whole album, every note from every instrument is not only heard, but keenly felt. Listening to Mutants loud (but not too loud) with headphones is a haptic experience. Even on my cheap-ass earbuds, songs like “Broken Glass Ceiling” and “Frozen Hearts” feel thunderous and momentous, a testament to the production and mix as much as it is the band’s writing and arrangements.

Even with a relatively slower song like “Siren Song”, which focuses more on groove than speed (the bass goes fucking buck wild here), there’s a sense of musicianship that’s so lively and conjures a smile on my face. Here they were, one of my favorite bands, embarking on a new journey with renewed vigor and enough time spent away for the whole thing to feel fresh and creative again. Great vocals, great riffs, great guitar tone, great rhythms, great structures – Mutants is great. I also cannot understand how talented of a mind Brodsky is. Between Mutoid Man, Cave In, and Old Man Gloom, dude is a GOAT to me, and despite my overall ‘kill your idols’ attitude, I’ll follow his work until he retires.

A six-year break between albums feels like a lot on paper – by 2018 I was pining for more – but to come back so strongly, as expected, after all this time is a very Mutoid Man thing to do. Mutants is everything I wanted, and I don’t see it leaving my rotation throughout the rest of the year and beyond with all the earworm melodies that I’ll remind myself of and be forced to binge it for an entire day as I’m wont to do. This is peak heavy music, and you’d be hard-pressed to find something in this lane that does it any better this year. I love Mutoid Man, and so can you! Thanks for the early birthday present, too.

Band photo by Jason Zucco 

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

Leave a Reply