Seeing the name “Nick Beggs” on any album automatically qualifies it as a must-hear, if only to see what Nick has up his sleeve this time. That does not mean, however, that it will always be worthwhile. Nick’s latest endeavor is The Mute Gods, almost like a mini supergroup containing Nick (bass, guitar, vocals), Roger King (keys, guitar), and Marco Minnemann (drums). These three are some of the top musicians for their genre and respective instruments, and, obviously, the potential here is incredible. Additionally, guest musicians include Adam Holzman, Nick D’Virgilio, Gary O’Toole, Rob Reed, and Ricky Wilde. What an amazing group of musicians! In the end, though, I feel somewhat let down by “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me”. Let me tell you why.
Let’s just get this out there: The Mute Gods are not a progressive rock group. Being on InsideOut Records where prog is usually the norm, it seems like the label just couldn’t pass up the line-up of musicians here. This album is definitely more pop rock with a European flavor. Now, I have no problem with that. In fact, I listed Susanne Sundfor’s latest album in my top 25 of 2015. And that is not to say that this record is devoid of progressive characteristics. No, there are definitely some progressive portions and the like. For me, though, I think it’s important that the fans know this before buying.
So, in addition to the pop rock label, The Mute Gods feature very catchy choruses, some great guitar work, wonderful keys, and a certain desolate greyness that I attribute to the theme of the album. Nick has been very open about the theme here, as it proclaims the human race to be ruined by a dark cloud of governments, corporations, and religious institutions. It’s not an anarchist or even anti-religious album, per se, but rather an album that would like to see the dogmatic, dominant, dishonest forms of these things destroyed. This theme permeates the entire album, and, to be honest, Nick’s social media accounts, too. In some ways, it comes across as an obsession, and at times it feels like something you can really agree with from the heart.
That said, the album is a mixed bag for me. There are tracks that really feel great, like “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me”, “In the Crosshairs”, “Your Dark Ideas”, or (my favorite) “Father Daughter”. That last one actually is a duet between Nick and his daughter Lula, who really blew me away with her incredible voice. All of these tracks have great musical arrangements and inspired tones that just feel like they were meant to be.
Other tracks, though, are almost unbearable. “Praying to a Mute God”, for instance, is naive and close minded to an obnoxious level, despite its smooth chorus (Think Neal Morse levels of evangelism, just the opposite direction). “Nightschool for Idiots” is one of the worst songs I’ve heard in a while, mainly due to its annoying chorus and stupid lyrics. “Swimming Horses” is, well, kinda just there. The rest of the tracks fall somewhere in between great and awful.
My disappointment doesn’t just lie in the writing, though. With such an immense group of musicians, there isn’t much that will catch your ear here. Aside from a few great intros or maybe a good solo here and there, the album is straightforward, dull at times, and simply lacking in personality. Even Nick’s bass is barely noticeable and nothing remarkable. Everything here is very plastic and well-produced, but the result is shallow and very bland. That is the great irony of “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me”: It opines about the fraudulent nature of human affairs, but then manages to feel very fake itself.
The Mute Gods are definitely a band that paint themselves as humanist philosophers of some type and want their message to be heard. I can respect that. I can’t, however, dismiss half-assed writing and a pretentious levels of eye-rolling lyrics and desperate obsession. There are definitely bright moments that really jived with me, but, overall, the album will be forgotten very soon.