Mute Gods - Tardigrades Will Inherit the EarthOnce upon a time, many moons ago, I wrote an essay discussing the effects of politics on modern literature. Now, the topic is pompous bullshit for (at least) two reasons: 1) what constitutes “modern” literature is incredibly arbitrary, 2) politics have been affecting all forms of expression since man first put chisel to wall. In other words, it’s completely redundant, but at least makes for an interesting debate. In my thesis, I opted for George Orwell’s Animal Farm as my exemplar, mostly because its allegorical satire of the Stalinist Soviet Union is as thinly veiled as possible, and purposefully so. I was heckled by my peers for choosing the easy option, but it just so happened to be the best one, too. Perhaps they would have preferred Gogol’s Dead Souls… Complexity is an issue which many an academic seem to confuse with quality — the same can be said of progressive music as a whole. Sure, intricacy is a hallmark of the genre, but sometimes less is more [How is that even possible?Steel Druhm]. England’s The Mute Gods are a particularly fine example; a crew of dyed in the wool musicians pumping out highly musical platters of prog rock with lashings of memorable pop-rock sensibility. With their previous outing Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me being expertly reviewed by our very own L. Saunders, I delved into follow-up Tardigrades Will Inherit the Earth with an open mind.

The Mute Gods are already something akin to prog royalty. Members Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett), Roger King (Steve Hackett) and Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani) are all tried and tested musicians, and it’s impossible to imagine artists of this caliber ever creating something truly bad. Unsurprisingly then, Tardigrades (eight-legged, nigh-indestructible, water-dwelling micro-animals, in case you were wondering) smacks of quality through and through, full of intelligent lyrics and thoughtful compositions. Beggs and company have slavishly committed to writing music with an emphasis on song-craft rather than the boundary-pushing noodling you might expect. Intro “Saltatio Mortis” sets the scene with a huge, keyboard layered orchestral soundscape, building into enough of a crescendo to herald the first track proper, “Animal Army,” a great song peppered with hard rock rhythms, all accentuated by a dramatic string section. As soon as Beggs’ lofty vocals float in, it’s clear that the trio put a premium on memorability, evident in the indelible chorus.

The album carries its fair share of variation — my particular favorite, “We Can’t Carry On,” is one of the record’s more rock-oriented moments, armed to the teeth with classy hooks and driving melodies and sporting more than a hat-tip to the melancholic observations of fellow Brits The Manic Street Preachers. It’s Beggs’ vocals that underpin the understated performances on the record; although his voice may not appeal to all, it manages to infuse the material with a unique, retro character, heard in the title-track, which helps itself to more than a share of Rush‘s synth-infused sound of the 80’s to deliver the album’s prophetic warning.

Mute Gods 2017

All, is not entirely well, however. Many of the negatives on Tardigrades come down to personal preference rather than a dearth of quality, but the rambling “The Singing Fish of Batticaloa” and its ’60s inspired pipes and keys does little for me, similarly unnecessary are the instrumentals that bookend it. In truth, although there is nothing overtly deserving of criticism, I find myself truly enjoying only half of the album, which is somewhat frustrating considering how strong some of the material is. Sporting a velvet production, Tardigrades Will Inherit the Earth sounds fantastic – shining guitars ring out and the keys and strings are luscious. Marco Minnemann’s uncanny drumming, full of adept fills, does the heavy lifting while Beggs’ crystalline voice sits up in the mix and truly shines, peaking on closer “Stranger Than Fiction,” which is about as far away from rock/metal as possible and absolutely beautiful.

Uncomplicated yet commanding songs are a rare commodity, particularly in our community of increasingly frenetic extremity, but The Mute Gods have certainly stepped up to the challenge, albeit intermittently. Although Tardigrades Will Inherit the Earth only sporadically hit the mark for me, I urge anyone with a remotely open minded, prog proclivity to give the album the attention it deserves — I’ll spend no time apologizing for your musical Napoleon complex.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: InsideOut Music
Websites: themutegods.com | facebook.com/themutegods
Releases Worldwide: February 24th, 2017

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  • Can someone unicorn the guy in the dress please

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      YOUR SISTER CAN.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Nice dress, though.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface
      • DrewMusic

        Sometimes the subtle unicorns are the best. Less is more, indeed.

        • VikingSchism

          How can less be more? That’s impossible!

      • The Unicorn

        Dude! YES!!!!

    • AnnieK13

      Looks more like a vest and pants than a dress…hard to tell.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Type the guy’s name on Google Images and you will find a lot of pictures of him wearing dresses. And pigtails.
        Not that there’s anything wrong with that. ;)

  • Luke_22

    Nice review Ferrous. I’m curious to hear this. I copped some flak and was admittedly a little too generous with my scoring of the debut (which I haven’t returned to as often as I thought I would). But there’s definitely a lot of talent here.

  • Grymm

    Man, I’ve been so far out of the loop when it comes to Nick Beggs. I remember him fondly during his days in Kajagoogoo. I need to catch up, because his bass work is impressive.

    • The Unicorn

      Wait, this is the dude from Kajagoogoo??!!!

      • Grymm

        One and the same!

        • Scourge

          Holy crap! This just went from “pass” to “I really need to listen to this!” He’s a great bassist!

        • Innit Bartender

          Oh. my. God. My teen years are assaluting me right now.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Yes, and you’re supposed to unicorn him!

        • [not a Dr]

          Or penguin him. Or owl him. I don’t know anymore.

  • ElectricEye

    Man, those lyrics are overwrought and with a strange delivery. Definitely needs rainbows and unicorns.

  • Alexandros

    Great review. I’m a sucker for prog rock so I will probably check this out even though I wasn’t very interested in their previous record.

    BTW are most writers here on AMG philosophy or literature mayors? I swear I’ve now read several reviews that open up talking about a paper the author wrote (I’m looking at you Diabolus)

    • manimal

      Steel Druhm is a professional marsupial, the rest are mostly human test subjects for a new study on the Ludovican technique.

      Oh, and AMG is specialising in an exciting new field of medicine called pyroproctology.

      • I’m actually a Professor of Phrenology and also dabble in exotic legal studies. I lost my re-election bid to remain the Mayor of Chili town.

        • manimal

          My uncle (you know, everyone has THAT uncle) is into trepanation, you guys should totally meet up and chew some coca.

        • [not a Dr]

          Crushing the skulls of the reviewers with your bare hands doesn’t make you a phrenologist. Doing it for an audience, no matter how well you explain your modus operandi, does not make you a proffessor.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Primate, not Marsupial.

        • manimal

          I was trying to not hurt his feelings about the back hair.

    • Ferrous Beuller

      I am the Mayor of literature. Bring me my (paper) chain and fear me!

    • [not a Dr]

      Some of them are doctors and lords.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Some are doctors, some are Lords but there are no Lord Doctors, though.

  • Danny

    Prog rock is usually really hit and miss for me, but I’ll check it out for the Manic Street Preachers reference, fucking love those guys.

  • Wilhelm

    Hints of Floyd, I like this!

  • Mikko_Kukkonen

    The very instant I laid my eyes on that album cover thumbnail, I was certain about the genre. I mean, what is it with sepia colors, railroad tracks, men in suit jackets standing alone, bright lights and prog rock? Is it just my imagination..?

  • GardensTale

    Oh man this sounds AMAZING, this is totally my kind of music. Progressive, recognizable sound, dramatic without entirely out-cheesing themselves. Thanks for this!

  • Thatguy

    I enjoyed the embedded song more than I expected. Quite Porcupine Tree-like. I was going to mock the use of the word tardigrade – but they are a real thing. Who knew?

    Nice music, but I think I will give it a miss.

    • [not a Dr]

      Because of the picture?

      • Thatguy

        Ha!

        No, because of the music. It would not hold my interest. I once wore a dress for a gig – the whole band did for one set. Then we all snuck out and changed back into proper clothes without telling the lead guitarist who then had to play the next set as the only guy in a dress. What a bunch of jerks we were. It was funny though.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Awesome! Except for the lead guitarist…

  • I felt the same way about their last album. Intermittently, it was pretty interesting stuff but there were too many rough patches to give a full recommendation. Still well worth a listen just for the caliber of musicians involved. Pretty compelling when they hit the mark.

    By the way has anyone looked up a tardigrade? Terrifying.
    http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/74ce6d0ab8942b3ebf011113bd79aecffcd21cabe9338f8b8082e55864037fb8.jpg

    • h_f_m

      They are definitely NOT terrifying. It’s by far my favorite organism. They’re like metal, they can survive anything.

      • [not a Dr]

        What about rust?

    • Innit Bartender

      Hell, looks like the brown paper bags that you used to put into vacuum cleaners…

  • Hammersmith

    “How should we typeset the title”
    “Who fucking cares, use whatever”
    “Fine, arial then.”

    • madhare

      I think that is Helvetica. But yes, that is unbelievably crappy typography for an album cover.

      • Innit Bartender

        This is turning into “Bad Font Week” rather quickly…

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Angry Metal Font Nerd?

    • Feytalist

      Honestly I kinda like it. Simple, uncluttered label, odd picture with with muted colours. Very proggy. Has a good presentation, I think.

  • Innit Bartender

    The title alone screams “Rush worship”, the Hugh Syme-style cover confirms it and the song is definitely up there. Good one!!!

  • Grymm

    LOL RIGHT?!

  • The Unicorn

    Loving this song. Still cant believe this is post-Kajagoogoo