By Kevin Goetz
Midwestern America is known for a lot of things, but y’know what it isn’t known for? Metal music. Especially symphonic metal.
This crazy dream of playing metal for a living has been the most “against-all-odds” kind of dream, but in the end we actually made it – and along the way I’ve learned something about the metal community that most people never get to experience. And I’d love to share it with you…
It was 2006. I was 14 years old, nursing a few fresh bruises after yet another day of bullying at school. I remember the chill and the pain as I pressed a bag of ice to a fresh black eye, while browsing this brand-new website called Youtube – where I stumbled onto a fan-made music video for “The Kinslayer” by Nightwish. From the very first note, that first syncopated punch of the drums and guitars and keyboard, I was obsessed with symphonic metal. It was the most intensely powerful music I’d ever heard!
Nightwish’s themes about finding beauty and inspiration in tragedy. Epica’s philosophies on personal responsibility and creating your own reality. Children of Bodom’s straight-up “fuck you” attitude. Something about having that amazing music blaring in my headphones all the time made the bullying at school more bearable. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel quite so hopeless – maybe you can relate?
It was empowering…but lonely. Metal as a whole was pretty unpopular with my peers, and these obscure European acts were even more unknown. Remember, this was before social media.
My solitary love for this music led me to pick up guitar in the hopes of learning to play some of these bands’ songs for myself, and I ended up getting my best friend Chris into guitar as well. Every weekend, when most other kids were out partying, he’d grab his guitar and we’d lock ourselves in my room to practice. Creating music became like therapy, and our lifelong issues with anxiety and depression started to improve.
…But literally the day after graduating from high school in 2010, Chris had to start working in a factory to take care of his siblings and his disabled parents. Despite 60-hour work weeks, he still came over to my house as often as possible so we could keep making music together. He felt that the band’s eventual success was his only conceivable way out of that factory.
In 2014, when Adrienne joined the band, it was at the darkest time in all of our lives. Chris had lost his house and spent the hottest months of summer living on the streets. I had developed an autoimmune disease that was becoming life-threatening. And as for Adrienne herself, she had a violent ex-boyfriend who literally tried to beat her to death.
Singing was the only thing that helped her with the PTSD that developed from the incident, and she threw herself into it completely.
We all promised each other that we would re-dedicate our lives to music, and that same year, we completed our “Shoreline” demo, featuring songs that would eventually be featured on 2016’s official debut, “The Unheard Warning.”
Our bassist Louisa joined up and completed the Mute Prophet lineup in 2018, and a few months later we released “Stillborn Reflection,” the album that truly launched our careers. Before we knew it, our music was on the radio halfway around the world, we were featured in magazines next to legends like Within Temptation and Floor Jansen, we’d done several tours, and our fanbase was growing around the world with each passing day.
And now, here we are, finally free.
It’s not an understatement to say that this band saved our lives. Singing pulled Adrienne back from the brink of suicide. Chris is now free of his family, happily married with a son of his own! And while I have no idea how this is possible, it seems that as long as I play guitar frequently, my chronic illness somehow stays in remission! I suspect it has a similar calming effect on the immune system as meditation or something, but what the hell do I know? I’m a musician, not a doctor.
By far the most important part of it all is YOU, the listener, who makes it all matter. Everything we do, the essential other half of it all, is sharing it with people like you. And without you, our story and our music are without meaning.
The truly amazing thing about the metal community is the way we all connect – musicians and listeners are no different from each other. We need each other.
If you want to experience the latest milestones in this crazy musical journey, you can check out our 2019 album “Quietus of Autumn” here.
And please feel free to leave a comment below! We love hearing from you.
P.S. if you’re interested, here’s the very first song I wrote for Mute Prophet, previously only available to our Patreon supporters. The chorus riff wasn’t nearly this complex back in 2009, and we didn’t have keyboards or orchestrations, but other than that, it’s pretty unchanged: