Midwestern America is known for a lot of things, but y’know what it ISN’T known for? Metal music. Especially symphonic metal.
A lot of metalheads – especially those who remember the pre-social-media days – can probably relate to that feeling that most people dislike or outright despise the music we love so much. But as someone who’s made a living playing metal for a few years now, I think I’ve learned something truly special about the metal community that most people haven’t had the opportunity to discover, and I’d love to share it with you.
It started in 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.
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. It became our shared way of coping with all of our various anxieties. That origin is why our take on symphonic metal is so much more guitar-driven than is typical of the genre.
…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 – so he practiced guitar with all the fervor of someone fighting for their life.
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. Her voice conveyed so much pain, turning the horrors she had witnessed into something tragically beautiful that resonated perfectly with a lot of the music we’d written. And she even figured out how to growl, which added another dimension to the music I’d never thought about before. It was clear that Adrienne was the only person I could possibly ask to sing for Mute Prophet.
Our bassist Louisa joined up and completed the Mute Prophet lineup in 2018. She was a friend of ours who endured a traumatic event of her own (though she’s less comfortable sharing the details than Adrienne is), and after seeing the incredible ways music had helped Adrienne recover, I figured, “why not teach her to play bass?” I mentioned that if she enjoyed it and got good enough, she was more than welcome to join the band.
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. The truly amazing thing about the metal community is the way we all connect – musicians and listeners are no different from each other. We all love metal just the same!
If you want to experience the latest milestones in this crazy musical journey, check out our Patreon page for brand-new music every month, along with some truly unique behind-the-scenes access.
Or, alternatively, you can check out our 2019 album “Quietus of Autumn” here.
And as always, please feel free to leave a comment below! We love hearing from you.