Well this certainly snuck up on me â€“ a release from a band I’d never previously heard of proceeding to make me sit up and punch the air in triumph for having â€˜found’ such a blindingly good CD. And make no mistake, â€˜Mute Print’ is a fantastic disc, sitting comfortably within the genre of melodic hardcore and containing enough moments of brilliance to make it essential for any passing Stretch Armstrong or Strike Anywhere fans.
It might sound a bit stupid to point out, but AWS’s ability to combine razor sharp, heavy riffs with uplifting harmonies is by far their greatest asset. On â€˜William Blake Overdrive’ they marry pounding drums and searing guitar licks with Nuno Pereira’s scratchy yet powerful voice, and the end result is that the sound is at once light and heavy. It might sound a bit wanky, but on the title track the constant switching between chunky riffs and harmonising lead guitars is frankly genius. It’s easy for a trick to swiftly become dull and staid, but as AWS show on the curiously affecting â€˜Kursk’ (containing the best lyrics I’ve heard so far this year) they’re in no danger of becoming boring, since they constantly play at such an exciting speed that by the time you’ve digested one fantastic riff or ecstatic vocal performance there’s another one approaching fast.
On â€˜Retiring’ and â€˜Brand New Me, Same Shitty You’ there’s a more noticeably melodic presence that veers in the direction of being radio-friendly but retains just enough harshness to ensure that you don’t feel short-changed. Since the guitars are constantly riffing around each other and bouncing around there’s seldom a dull moment and it’s testament to the musicianship of the band that they manage to pack â€˜Mute Print’ full of as many teeth-grindingly heavy riffs as they do catchy, hummable choruses.
Any fans of the aforementioned bands would do well to seek this out, because it’s a fine example of the melodic hardcore genre. Without skimping on either the melody or the hardcore, they strike a fine balance between the two separate ends of the musical spectrum while maintaining the harsh tone throughout. One of the strongest releases of the year so far, without a doubt.