Of Mice & Men

support Wage War + Sylar
author LL date 09/04/18 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Of Mice & Men have become one of the longer-standing popular metalcore bands and their popularity doesn't seem to have waned despite the departure of Austin Carlile who was otherwise an iconic frontman to the group. While they have toured a bunch since with bassist Aaron Pauley stepping in to sing and growl, it wasn't until January this year that they really solidified their new identity with the release of the new album "Defy". It sees them pulling their sound towards heavier modern metal territory and it also makes up the bulk of their setlist on this tour. With fellow American metalcore bands Sylar and Wage War as the supports, we are in for a heavy evening with a healthy dose of breakdowns and clean choruses as well as a few emotional ballads. The upstairs room at Pumpehuset never fills up more than halfway tonight though and a certain Monday tiredness kind of puts a haze over the audience at various points.

All pictures by Michael Hyldgaard Løgtholt

Sylar

Sylar who released a pretty good sophomore record in 2016 called "Help!" are playing their first show in Denmark tonight but their catchy metalcore that channels groups like Linkin Park as well as the newer Issues is fairly quick to win the audience over up front. They don't waste a second and get right into an energetic show filled with rap vocals, catchy clean choruses, and of course breakdowns. The mix is very heavy on the bass, at times almost eradicating some of the finer layers in their sound, and their effect-laden backtrack thus becomes a little too much tonight when used as excessively as on the older tracks "Yours Truly" and especially the ending "Golden Retreat". Mostly, I find myself wishing that they had a DJ type with them on stage when the electronic effects are not just there as background filling but actually play such huge parts in their sound. Still, their performance is good and fun, and their frontman gets the party started especially for "Pleasure Paradise" by alluringly telling us to just let go and "Push the person standing next to you... No matter who it is... Just... Push... Push..." turning into a rhythmic whisper and making the first proper pit of the evening appear. The more rumbling "Dark Daze" as well as the hard-hitting single "Assume" make great impressions early on in the set while the otherwise groovy and well-written "Soul Addiction" suffers a bit in the clean parts that feel more strained and less seamless than expected. Their hardworking young band ethic comes through for them, though, and the friendly attitude sets a good mood in the venue that is finally about half filled when they end.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Assume
  • 2. Yours Truly
  • 3. Dark Daze
  • 4. Soul Addiction
  • 5. Gambit Rogue Delight
  • 6. Pleasure Paradise
  • 7. Golden Retreat

Wage War

While Sylar had their first show tonight, Wage War are back for the second time and it's quickly evident that they already have a Danish fanbase. In line with the heavier focus on OM&M's new record, they bring the metal especially in the shape of their frontman who has an immensely satisfying and juicy, proper metal growl that is refreshing in the metalcore scene for sure. As he demonstratively reproduces the coughing "Blergh!" that appears on "The River", there are smiles or short-lived laughs all around the front of the room where people let loose a little bit and in general the band is off to a really strong start. Their clean vocalist does a great job throughout their set as well, setting out on some solid long notes especially in "Witness" and "Twenty One" that lift the songs just like they're supposed to. Three songs from their debut, "Blueprint", appear in the first half of the set, while their newest release "Deadweight" dominates in the latter half. Its title track with the intense chorus that patchworks growls on top of cleans on top of gang vocals works really well in the mix tonight. "Never Enough" gets a good circle pit going but as the more ballad-focused songs take up space in the run of "Gravity", "Don't Let Me Fade Away", and "Johnny Cash", the backtrack becomes very imposing. Especially during the obvious vocal chorus effects that drench their singer's voice in "Gravity", their sound gets a very over-produced feel. After my excitement for their heavier and more gritty sound earlier, their set seems to lose a bit of its raw energy with this. They do redeem it again with the hard and fast single "Stitch" that ends a good set that nevertheless could have flowed a little more evenly.

Setlist:

  • 1. Alive
  • 2. The River
  • 3. Witness
  • 4. Deadweight
  • 5. Twenty One
  • 6. Never Enough
  • 7. Gravity
  • 8. Don't Let Me Fade Away
  • 9. Johnny Cash
  • 10. Stitch

Of Mice & Men

The evening's headliner step up the game tonight by cranking the volume up to a massive, tight sound that is almost too dense for my tastes. This is assisted by an intense light design that fires blinking rays of light and strobes all over the venue and out from the stage throughout their set which could certainly help the party mood if the show had been on a weekend day, but his Monday night it seems to tire out the audience over time instead but more on that later. The band's renditions of their new energetic songs are pretty much flawless, Aaron Pauley especially impressing by nailing all of his vocal parts. Through the barrage of sound and light that doesn't really set distinct atmospheres for the individual songs, it becomes obvious, though, that many of them share a very similar sound and tone so that what ultimately sets them apart from each other is mainly the individual chorus melodies that are admittedly extremely catchy. Early on both "Unbreakable" and "Would You Still Be There" get great singalongs and has the audience up front jumping and pushing each other around in sheer joy. Instead of their new groovy cover of Pink Floyd's "Money" that they have been playing on the tour so far and which could have diversified their sound, we get the hard-hitting but also kind of anonymous "You Make Me Sick" from "Restoring Force".

After this, the energy in the room falters due to a bass drum problem that Pauley handles a little uninspiredly, betraying a business-like approach to the show tonight. He does break out into a bass solo and commands a guitar solo to follow but they are both very short and unengaging. When they finally break out the next song "On The Inside", several audience members choose this as an appropriate time for going to the bar or taking a break downstairs and the show hits a kind of slump even though the following immense song "Pain" from "Cold World" does get numerous cheers and a generally good response up front.

Their drummer steps in to get us engaged again with a dramatic intro for "Bones Exposed" and this gets a good circle pit going before the great riffage of "Instincts" provides us with a new highlight of the show. Their album-spanning medley of the three "YDG" songs doesn't quite get the enthusiastic response that I expected and as mentioned earlier, it seems the audience in the room is by now worn out perhaps due to a tired Monday mood. As the band leaves the stage, clapping, of course, ensues for an encore but it's one of the laziest crowd efforts I've experienced in a while, pretty much dying out to a silence several times, before Pauley teases us by playing his bass while out back. When they do appear again, he proclaims "Alright, you want ONE more song? That's exACTly what you're gonna get!" and unless I'm somehow making a brainfart, they then give us just "The Depths" and leave out "The Flood" that is otherwise noted on their setlist and has been featured on the earlier shows of the tour. As seamless as their show flows and as great as it sounds, it's certainly a solid performance but never reaches the heights it could outside of that, due to the only semi-filled room, and the Monday vibes that linger on the stage as well as among the audience.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Defy
  • 2. Warzone
  • 3. Unbreakable
  • 4. Would You Still Be There
  • 5. You Make Me Sick
  • 6. On The Inside
  • 7. Pain
  • 8. Bones Exposed
  • 9. Instincts
  • 10. YDG / Still YDG'n / Forever YDG'n (Medley)

- Encore

  • 11. The Depths

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