Artist: Awake the Mutes
Album: Snowblind – EP
Towards the end of 2016, we began to witness that the nu-metal revival and infusion into the existing metalcore bloodstream was, without a doubt, no longer an event isolated to US-soil. With artists like Heartaches and Viletongue adding varying degrees of Bizkit-and-Slipknot into their blends of metal-and-hardcore (the latter artist much more than the former), it was—and is—readily apparent that, like it or not, the nu-revival is a global phenomenon; a pandemic, if you will. Enter German nu-comers, Awake the Mutes, and their latest release via Bastardized Recordings, Snowblind. A blend of raw, heavy-handed and chug-laden metalcore with prominently hip-hop influenced, early 2000’s nu metal, Snowblind is as sinister as it is catchy, beating the listener to a pulp one second, and getting stuck in their head like a fish hook the next. While Awake the Mutes certainly aren’t the first (nor will they be the last) band to do what they do, they do it well enough to make a marked impact on the listener, earning a semi-permanent position on their day-to-day, get-up-and-grind playlist.
Citing the Wu-Tang Clan and Behemoth as their chief two influences, the quintet actually aren’t far from that mark with their street-smart style of dissonant and groovy metal. Percussionist Michel Kleiner is creative and savvy behind the skins, proficient with bouncy and playful patterns on “Fractal Highway” while dominating the track “War Drums” with explosive, bombastic breakdowns and quick, flash fills that make the songs name more accurate than one might think. Kleiner’s percussive prowess is further amplified by bassist Sebastian Lux. Lux, while not incredibly audible in his own right, serves a crucial role in adding depth and resonance to Kleiner’s percussion, giving Awake the Mutes a low end that annihilates the listener with ease while giving the more distinctly rap-and-nu-metallic segments a bouncy candor and groovy pace that does more than just “set the mood,” but establish an entirely new dynamic than the one that dominates during Snowblind’s more abrasive moments. This is especially true during the EP’s title track, or during “Hyena,” where Lux and Kleiner direct the band into more hip-hop oriented territory. All the while, guitarists Jens Pettrup and Yves Otterbach are more than capable of providing scathing, riff-driven moments of intensity (“War Drums”) and cooly creative and immensely fluid moments of urban-influenced groove (“Hyena”). Pettrup and Otterbach are powerful and oppressive, a dynamic duo of back-and-forth instrumental interplay. While the duo might not establish many moments of true brilliance, they do what they do very well, making catchy tracks that are bound to stay stuck in the listener’s head without a second thought.
Where Awake the Mutes truly make a more distinct presence and style for themselves is with the vocal efforts of frontman Christian Schüle. Schüle’s vocals—while in any one venue aren’t necessarily then most incredible—are remarkable when placed in an all-encompassing examination of his range. Schüle goes from cleanly sung bridges to harsh, raw screams to quick, fluid verses of half-barked rapping without skipping a beat, all in English–something very few artists can do well even in the US, let alone overcoming a language barrier. Schüle’s talents, limited to his diversity and not widely applicable to his lyrics (while his delivery is dead on, the lyrics themselves leave a little to be desired) give the listener something much more lasting to find attractive about Snowblind above and beyond the occasional cool breakdown or bold drum pattern. In short, Schüle takes something cool and makes it a little more noteworthy, adding replay value where there might not have been any.
Awake the Mutes are an experienced band and it shows—not necessarily in that they’re perfect in everything they aim to achieve, but that they can grow and mature from release to release. They’ve proven they can do it when looking at their past releases, and they’ve done it once more with Snowblind. A maturation from Emerald in several ways, yet still indicative of a band with more growing yet to do, their 2017 release is set to have heads banging and bobbing with hands high in the air (and crashing down on the nearest person when the breakdown hits) all around the world—from venues to living rooms, Awake the Mutes are out to Awake the savage within the listener.
For Fans Of: Viletongue, VCTMS, DVSR
By: Connor Welsh