Of Mice & Men


Written by: MAK on 31/01/2018 17:20:06

Over the years that Of Mice & Men have been active, the Californian band has been jokingly considered the ‘Austin Carlile band’ in the same breath that Sleeping With Sirens is referred to as the ‘Kellin Quinn band’, though that sentiment has since changed, with Carlile leaving the band for the second time at the end of 2016 due to not being able to write what he wanted to on the next album as well as a long-term battle with Marfan Syndrome. This left Of Mice & Men without a singular frontman once again; however, this time the band decided against appointing a new member, and bassist Aaron Pauley took over as the main vocalist along with his instrumental duties for this album number five, “Defy”.

As the first album without Carlile, this feels like a fresh start for Of Mice & Men and a chance to make a real impact on any scene they see fit. They made a name for themselves in the metalcore scene, and quite dominantly at that, but “Defy” comes across more as a modern metal album — in the same stance as the likes of Bury Tomorrow. It’s a heavy-sounding record compared to its predecessor, “Cold World”, which, while certainly a meaty piece of music, was very balanced and melodic. Now that stance is continued, but you can tell from the opening title track, the titular “Defy”, that Of Mice & Men pack some real punch now with an array of nice crunchy riffs. The chorus has a slight A Day to Remember -feel to it, in being quite poppy and catchy, and showcasing where popular modern metal stands currently. It’s an attention-grabbing anthem to kick us off.

“Instincts” then comes in as an outright heavy metal track, laden with grooving hooks and intricate solo melodies. It’s a pure headbanger with another rather infectious chorus. Afterward, “Back to Me” follows up with a softer approach at first, but then builds into a heartwarming alternative metal number. It’s rather uplifting and continues the anthemic trend set in motion by the opening track. “Sunflower” is rather similar, yet a tad heavier — another epic, slow-burning piece that has some punch to it and juxtaposes beautiful melodies and wonderful clean singing hooks against distorted riffs and beastly roars.

The most apparent thing is that “Defy” is an album that is searching for mainstream radio play, but doesn’t hold back in terms of showing how ferocious it can be, and as such, it appeals to those who want to get rowdy at shows as well as sing along to big choruses. “Warzone” is a prime example of this. It's without a doubt the heaviest track on the album — a throwback to the metalcore days of this band combined with some early ‘00s alt-rock grit. Songs such as “Unbreakable” and “Forever YDG’n” also prove themselves to be equally pit-worthy. “How Will You Live” is quite possibly the best of both worlds, combining big sing-alongs with the dirtiest of distorted riffage and barrages of breakdowns.

Some might have thought that Of Mice & Men would miss Austin Carlile, but the truth is that they don’t in the slightest, and come across as better off without him. I could also make a bold statement that this record features some of their best songwriting to date, as “Defy” is far more approachable than previous releases and caters to a wider range of heavy music fans by being more traditionally ‘metal’, yet without ditching what hooked fans into the band in the first place and combining it with some great melodic influences. “Defy” is a statement-making album for the band and one I found I enjoyed a lot more than I was expecting to.


Download: Defy, Warzone, How Will You Live
For the fans of: Bury Tomorrow, While She Sleeps, Miss May I
Listen: facebook.com

Release date 19.01.2018
Rise Records

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