SPONSORED BY VERTIGO RECORDS – 193 RIDEAU ST. OTTAWA, CANADA
WRITTEN BY J.P. SADEK
I was never a Cave-In fan. As much as they’ve been touted as experimental, expansive and whatever else, I always found them to be bland, and way too saccharine in general to be interesting. In fact, I was kind of stoked to see them open for Isis during their last Montreal show, but was so disappointed by how much they sounded like their records (bo-ring), that I crossed the street for a beer. Then I found out that bassist Caleb Scoffield is in Old Man Gloom, and that Stephen Brodsky (vocals/guitar) is the frontman for Mutoid Man. Unpossible.
Yet all old Cave-In fans are mired in nostalgia, and the two releases that have spent the most time on my turntable this year are Old Man Gloom’s Ape of God, and Mutoid Man’s Bleeder (this despite the fact that the latter only came out a couple of weeks ago). Make no mistake, neither one is a traditional instant classic, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, I’d say OMG has made a habit of putting out some pretty alienating shit, pushing themselves to the limits of people’s tolerance. Mutoid Man, on the other hand, has tightened things up for their second release. Where 2013’s Helium Head EP showed a ton of promise, Bleeder delivers on every level.
It’s been a long time since I’ve remotely enjoyed a song that can be described as a “barnburner”, but holy shit does Mutoid Man make it effortless. Take a break from headbanging and air-guitaring long enough to really listen; you start to feel the pedigree. All of what Brodsky’s vocals could’ve been in Cave-In now exploited to
their fullest. Nick Cageo’s sick bass tone dominates the lower register, and Ben Koller shatters reality on drums. His immaculate precision complements the groove he’s putting into every beat. It’s not like his playing in Converge; the collaboration with Brodsky allows him to be… more. The record’s produced by Kurt Ballou, so it sounds great. That’s all I’ll say about the production. It all fucking rips.
Thing is, Bleeder is a throwback record for me. Not that it hearkens back to a particular era of music, or even of making music, but in that it reminds me of why I got into heavy music in the first place by taking me through a tour of all the bands I fell in love with in the first place. The solo on the opener “Bridgeburner” has the same guitar tone as Turbonegro’s Apocalypse Dudes. “1,000 Mile Stare” sounds like the natural evolution of The Atomic Bitchwax, had they kept writing their vocals around the riffage, and not the other way around. “Dead Dreams” alternates between mid-period (doomy) Entombed, and a weird hardcore creepiness. Pretty much the entire record moves at the pace of the New Bomb Turks’ debut Destroy-Oh-Boy, with the twang and swagger of Michigan two-piece Bantam Rooster. The whole record is infused with a sense of fun, and just enough of an indication that the band actually takes its songwriting really fucking seriously.
Then you get to the closer. “Bleeder” is perhaps the best last track I’ve heard on a record. It’s slow, it’s big, and even the clean tones come across as crushingly heavy because of the tension built up in the 9 tracks before it. When guest vocalist Sarahbeth Linden comes in to belt out the title of the song, when you’re faced with the inevitable mortality of your listening experience, you give thanks… to Cave-In. Because without them, there wouldn’t be this.