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Saturday 30 March 2019

Reviews: The Mute Gods, Rival Tides, Colt 48, Anthem (Paul H, Manus & Alex)

The Mute Gods: Atheists and Believers (InsideOut Records) [Paul H]

Despite being one of the busiest touring and recording musicians in the rock world, Nick Beggs also finds time to deliver high quality side projects. None more so that The Mute Gods, the band he put together with drummer Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, The Aristocrats, The Sea Within) and keyboard player Roger King (Steve Hackett Band). Atheists And Believers is the third album, following on from 2017’s Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth and the band’s eponymous debut in 2016.

Whilst Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth was a dark, heavier release than its predecessor, Atheists And Believers has a more melodic, pop feel about it whilst retaining the dark subject matter. Main writer Beggs has continued his social commentary, this time turning his attention to the state of the world, focussing on universal topics such as politics, humanity and love. As Beggs comments, “The album’s key message is that we now empower stupid people and don’t listen to educated, informed experts anymore because truth is no longer fashionable.”

Clocking in at just under an hour in length, the ten tracks on offer range from turbulent rock compositions to more sentimental pieces of music. The opening title track is one of the harder edged songs, whilst One Day has a guest solo from Alex Lifeson of Rush. Beggs also enlists Craig Blundell from Steven Wilson’s band, multi-instrumentalist Rob Townsend and his daughter, Lula Beggs for the delicate and essential backing vocals. Knucklehead is a poppier track, dominated by a gorgeous melody and some delicious keyboards, the subject matter aimed at those idiots in power around the world.

If you follow Beggs on social media and can get past the random naked shots whilst he is on tour, you’ll be aware of his views of the environment, society and politics. His despair at the way the world This is evident on Envy The Dead, which opens with a crunching riff, is underpinned by King’s thick keyboards and which meanders its way to a natural conclusion. Beggs vocals as ever are clear and smooth, whilst the musicianship on display throughout this release is of course, top drawer. Calm and gentle is the order of the day on Old Men, a reflective acoustic piece, which contrasts with the industrial feel of Iridium Heart and the eight-minute anger of Twisted World Godless Universe. The album concludes with the delicate, fragile I Think Of You. Clever, astute and superbly composed, The Mute Gods third album is every bit as good as its predecessors. With a world careering towards calamity and chaos at an alarming rate, there will no doubt be even more material for album number four. 8/10

Rival Tides: My God Is Fire (Self Released) [Alex]

Rival Tides describe themselves purely as ’rock’. Not as alternative, or traditional or any numbers of labels you can suffix to the genre, just ‘rock’. This was probably a smart move for a number of reasons. First and foremost, if you begin getting too specific with your labels, you immediately draw comparisons to a myriad of other acts, thus taking attention away from the music. Secondly, if I were to label them off the impression I get on My God Is Fire, the combination of distinctive guitar parts and strong choruses doesn’t really lend itself to any genre better than rock. Taken together, we a given a record which is enjoyable, if not enthralling.

We open on some impressive interplay between lead and rhythm guitars, as All My Friends Are Stoned proves an energetic opener, with a strong chorus melody. These musicians do show a precise ability to use contrast effectively though as the song enters an airy, ambient and mellow section as a means of taking the listener off guard for when the fast-tempos decide to kick back in. Vultures follows, its rhythmic verses, euphorically gliding hooks and wildling guitar solos making it one of the most stand-out moments here. Deeper Cuts and Sour Milk, show Rival Tides gloomy side using chaotic instrumentation, violent juxtapositions, and darker tones. On a different note, Bread For Thieves and Sore Neck demonstrate their concern with societal issues, dealing with wealth disparity and homelessness. Overall, this results in quite a mixed bag of anthems, each of them catchy and commanding in their own right.

Going back to the notion of genre labels, there seems to be a variety of influences at play here, some of them more modern some of them grounded in classic rock. While there is nothing wholly revolutionary or different, My God Is Fire certainly succeeds in creating feelings of elation and excitement. Sound like your sort of thing? Give it a listen. 7/10

Colt 48: Negatives (Self Released) [Paul H]

Formed in June 2017, London based two-piece Colt 48 have apparently snared a loyal fanbase in the Capital. The duo of Adam Jerome (Guitar/Vocals) and Matt Savini (Drums) make no disguise of their love for the churning low nu-metal sounds of SOiL and Korn and add to their sound with a touch of melody in similar vein to bands such as Three Days Grace. Having already released two EPs, I and II which have forced the management at venues such as The Black Heart and The Borderline to put up the ‘Sold Out’ signs.

With a number of high-profile support slots including Puddle Of Mudd and Glamour Of The Kill to their name, the star is clearly in the ascendency for the band. Now, having spent a summer with producers Colin Richardson (known for his work with Slipknot, Machine Head and Trivium) and Chris Clancy (of Mutiny Within and Wearing Scars), Colt 48 drop EP number three, Negatives. Full of a barrage of riffs, grooves and choruses which are instantly catchy, Negatives is five songs of totally polished and infectious hard rock which will appeal to many. Short and sweet, the five tracks barely get over the three-minute mark but sometimes less is more. Jerome’s vocal is suited to the band’s sound, and their high energy impressive. They may be a bit repetitive but that is often the style. It’s not my bag but Colt 48 are a band clearly on the up. 7/10

Anthem: Nucleus (Nuclear Blast Records) [Manus]

Japanese heavy metal quartet Anthem have been cranking out albums at a breakneck pace since the early 80s—aside from being broken up from ’92 until 200—and Nucleus as an album sounds like it will fit nicely into the group’s catalogue. It’s the same, straight up heavy metal, only this record’s slick production makes it sound much more modern. It’s a bit of an odd juxtaposition, the old style song-writing with the modern studio sound not particularly complementing it will.

Some rawness and character is lost for the better sound, but had the band turned out a record in 2019 with the production of the 80s, it probably would have also sounded strange. The songs themselves do sound a little dated. This isn’t always a bad thing, if they are still great songs, but most of these ones are just alright. Venom Strike is a jumpy tune, Awake adds nice touches of melody and Black Empire has the catchiest chorus on the record, but at 13 tracks, the highlights are too few and far between. 6/10

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