Album Review: Mutes – …buried where you stand

Birmingham has been a great place for a number of years if you like your music noisy and filthy. Whether it’s a touring band bringing a crowd in or one of its many homegrown bands, there’s a massive passion for the more alternative side of the musical spectrum. Which is where Mutes come in. With this, album four, …buried where you stand has the trio going back to their origins for something more raw and primal for a healthy dose of post punk noise.

Full-throttled angular music is the order of the day on this album where filthy, distorted-as-fuck guitar bleeds from the speakers against manic drums and bass thicker than a cast member of The Only Way is Essex. Opening track “Transparency” is their statement of intent with its hypnotic riff as a blast of quintessential post punk, its breakneck pace belying its six-minute runtime. Elsewhere, “Dewired” is positively unhinged, reminiscent of Metz are their noisy best and it’s revisited on “Mere Slaughter” where the trio go absolutely feral as it continuously builds throughout the song, the constant repetition of the title turning uncomfortable against jangly notes which gives way to a big, fuzzy crescendo.

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There’s also space for more dreamier soundscapes where they push into psychedelic elements. Bright, pretty vocals against these moments only serve the songs with tracks like “Another Moon Song” and “Sightless” wrapping you up in them allowing yourself to be lost, a respite from the more jagged and rough songs. But it’s the marriage of these two elements where the album truly shines with “Barely Living Proof” and “Great White Nothing” combining urgency with solemnity for tracks which take you on a journey.

“Televangelist” is one of the more pointed songs on the album and whilst not quite as ferocious melodically as other tracks on the album, the forceful drums hit like gunshots and it serves as a great representation of the album and Mutes as a whole of where to point beginners with its more alternative slant before we delve further into the abyss. There’s not many songs which have anything in common with other tracks on the album, least of all “.cycles” and “Born Again Blues”. The former comes at the halfway point, an instrumental slice of sheer dissonance whilst the latter closes out the album, the restrained acoustic number is one of the album’s brighter moments sonically. It’s bare bones sound works well with the stripped back production and almost has the feel of a hidden track (back when albums used to have those).

Where much of the album is introspective, it still has universal themes exploring Catholic guilt, addiction, the whiplash of modern living and the very aspect of life itself. While there’s a lot going on in every song and indeed the album, it still feels like one solid record by one band, largely down to the production. Having recorded the album live, there’s an old-school feel to it where the band manages to sound like a classic 90s band without being a cliché. Whilst the vocals are lower down in the mix than you’d expect them to be, it works against the cacophony of guitar and fuzz. Mutes aren’t in the habit of making bad records and …buried where you stand is no exception to that rule. It blends every facet of previous records into one succinct listen whilst leaning heavily on the dirt and makes not only a new watermark for them but an excellent entry point.

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…buried where you stand is released on 17th May

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