Mutoid Man Credit: Mitchell Wojcik

I like to imagine guitarist-vocalist Stephen Brodsky of Cave In and drummer Ben Koller of Converge—each an integral part of the early 2000s hardcore scene—shooting the breeze one afternoon about Robert Fripp side projects and figuring, what the hell, why not get together and jam at some point? Thing is . . . when you’re both hypertalented shredders with penchants for prog-metal exploration you don’t just noodle around for a snap, you build freak worlds of galloping Maiden-like rhythms, glam-metal vocal flourishes, and superriffs that morph from sludge to Slayer midheadbang. Rounded out by bassist Nick Cageao, Mutoid Man just dropped their third full-length, War Moans (Sargent House), and like so many records made by metal-band savants disguised as outcasts, it toes the line between wacky and mind-melting. Led by Brodsky’s theatrical, occasionally exhausting vocals, “Date With the Devil,” for example, vibes like a cross-pollination between Mötley Crüe and Spinal Tap when a line lands like “Came inside of satan’s daughter / Nine months later who’s the father?” So much of the record sounds like it was written with a heavy smirk—if not quite a full-on shit-eating grin—and perhaps that would come off a little too arrogant if it weren’t for the damn truth that these three can and will back it up.   v