Written by: PP on 18/02/2012 18:15:11

Quebec's MUTE have reached their fourth album with "Thunderblast", their first one since "The Raven" from more than four years ago. They generally take between three to four years in between releasing albums, which is a long writing cycle that's one of the reasons why the band hasn't attained similar success as their like-minded peers in A Wilhelm Scream, or if you want to go further back, Belvedere. But perhaps more importantly, the band is still plagued by the same inconsistency and lack of variety that made "The Raven" only a decent record instead of a great one.

On one hand, MUTE write sound, technically oriented skate punk, drawing inspiration from the likes of No Use For A Name but also A Wilhelm Scream, although the latter are far heavier and more hardcore rooted in comparison. 'Melodicore' is the colloquial term often used in connection with releases like "Thunderblast" to emphasize the strong focus on clean, technically driven melodies that recall elements from late 90s skate punk while pushing the instrumental proficiency edge from all sides. Songs like "Bates Motel", "Homesick & Tired", and "Calcul(h)ating", and "Strangers Back Again" are all examples of the genre done right, with catchy choruses splicing high-octane technical guitar passages together into melodic and enjoyable tracks able to compete (almost) with an even footing with the best in the genre.

But as I mentioned with "The Raven" and earlier in this review, the band are too inconsistent in their songwriting. Yes, the songs all show impressive flair for the instruments, but this is often done at the cost of writing a song that's better than just 'decent'. Moreover, the vocals seldom vary from the NUFAN influenced clean singing style, but where that works for Tony Sly & co, the guy from MUTE just doesn't have enough character to pull it off convincingly throughout the record. It's a shame, because MUTE write pretty solid 90s oriented technical skate punk on "Thunderblast" as they have done on all previous records of their career, but it's rarely better than decent or just 'good' in places, preventing the band from scoring highly on our rating scale. They need to find in them three or four true standout tracks and they'd be much better off filling the rest of the album with their standard autopilot melodicore.

Download: Bates Motel, Homesick & Tired, Strangers Back Again
For the fans of: A Wilhelm Scream, No Use For A Name, Atlas Losing Grip
Listen: Myspace

Release date 15.09.2011
Disques Nomade

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