Artist: The Mute Gods
Album Title: Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth
Label: InsideOut Music
Date Of Release: 24 February 2017
The debut album from The Mute Gods, ‘Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me’ was an album that tore me in two. On that record, there were some very good songs and a few that I wasn’t so keen on. I still listen to the likes of ‘Nightschool For Idiots’ and ‘Father Daughter’ but I don’t think I’ll ever be a fan of ‘Your Dark Ideas’ and ‘Swimming Horses’ if I’m honest.
Nevertheless, given that The Mute Gods is essentially a trio comprised of Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Kajagoogoo), Roger King (Steve Hackett) and Marco Minnemann (Joe Satriani, Aristocrats), I felt compelled to give their sophomore release, ‘Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth’ a try. Despite their wealth of experience, I put the hit and miss affair of the debut down to the fact that the trio were still finding their feet and exact direction. I’m not saying that the musicianship was ever in question, because it wasn’t. Instead, it was just more down to personal taste and that some songs didn’t hit the mark with me.
It may have also had something to do with the fact that the debut featured a plethora of guest musicians including drummers Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard, Tears for Fears) and Gary O’Toole (Steve Hackett, China Crisis, Kylie Minogue), keyboardist Adam Holzman (Miles Davis, Steven Wilson), and multi-instrumentalist Rob Reed (Magenta). With the best will in the world, this can sometimes muddy the creative waters and lead to a ‘too many cooks…’ scenario.
This is clearly something that Nick Beggs and Co. have taken on board. As such, ‘Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth’ is very much a three-man affair, with only Lula Beggs and Lauren Rogers providing backing vocals here and there.
As with any album that bears the name of Nick Beggs, ‘Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth’ has a powerful message to give. In this instance, the record takes a look at the self-destructive tendencies of humankind. It’s a laudable and extremely topical message and will find favour with many who listen no doubt.
But enough of the background, let me address what most of you are interested in: the music. On that score, ‘Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth’ does not tear me in two like the debut album. Unfortunately, I have to report that I really don’t like this album very much at all.
In terms of musical direction, ‘Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth’ travels a largely similar path to the debut in that it provides listeners with a dose of progressive rock that veers towards neo-prog on several occasions. And of course, it goes without saying that there are plenty of pop influences to be heard throughout.
Once again, I have to point out that my negativity is not directed at the musicianship, for this album features some very accomplished performances and is intelligently put together. Instead, my negativity is directed the songs themselves and an almost complete lack of music that makes me want to take a repeated listen.
Now, I am not a reviewer who will ever write about an album after a solitary listen. That’s not fair and it isn’t professional. I therefore nearly didn’t write the review because I simply couldn’t bring myself to listen to it a second or a third time. And then I realised that maybe I had missed something on the first spin, so I forced myself to listen again. Sadly, despite the occasional bright moment here and there, my first impression was largely confirmed. For good measure, I tried a couple more times including a play via some headphones.
I simply have to conclude that this record is simply not for me. Aside from the more overtly pop-centric and quirky title track, or the closing number ‘Stranger Than Fiction’, there are virtually no hooks or melodies that speak to me and every time I listen, I’m left feeling thoroughly disappointed. I wanted to like this record, but I can’t.
‘We Can’t Carry On’ has its moments but I don’t like the majority of the vocals, which grate on me and the same could be said at a push for ‘Animal Army’, which very nearly delivers but I can’t get on with the more bouncy pop-infused sections. ‘The Dumbing of The Stupid’ features deliberate discordance in the latter stages which just irritates me whilst ‘The Singing Fish of Batticaloa’ has a running time of over eight minutes but doesn’t deliver anywhere enough in that time; instead it meanders slowly to a close without ever offering anything remarkable.
I thought long and hard about whether or not to write this review as I hate writing negative reviews. Generally, I leave that to other publications. In the end though, having reviewed the debut, I felt it only fair to offer my thoughts on the follow-up. What I would ask though is that you listen to the music, including the track below and draw your own conclusions. There are bound to be many opinions that differ from mine and I’d hate people to miss out on something just because I dislike it. The score reflects that prowess of the musicians involved, but very little else I’m afraid.
The Score Of Much Metal: 6
If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others from previous years and for 2017 right here:
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
Pyogenesis – A Kingdom To Disappear
My Soliloquy – Engines of Gravity
Nailed To Obscurity – King Delusion
Helion Prime – Helion Prime
Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain
Persefone – Aathma
Soen – Lykaia
Exquirla – Para Quienes Aun Viven
Odd Logic – Effigy
Mors Principium Est – Embers Of A Dying World
Firewind – Immortals
Slyde – Back Again EP
Sepultura – Machine Messiah
Deserted Fear – Dead Shores Rising
Kreator – Gods Of Violence
Borealis – World of Silence MMXVII
Pain of Salvation – In The Passing Light of Day