ARTIST: OF MICE AND MEN
LABEL: RISE RECORDS
If there’s one thing Of Mice & Men hasn’t done since the departure of their former vocalist Austin Carlile, it’s lagging behind. ‘Defy’ is the first album since the band has parted ways with Carlile, but it definitely holds it own against their former albums. One would think that losing a lead vocalist would result in a drastic change in genre, but this is not the case. Of Mice & Men is back, and stronger than ever.
Their new album opens with a headbang-worthy riff that continues to hold its grooviness until the first chorus hits. The bone-shaking breakdown at the end of this song is a fair warning to how catchy the rest of the album will be and how great of a band Of Mice & Men is.
“Despite the fact that the band is now working with a new lineup, they haven’t changed in what they think and what they want.”
Aaron Pauley, former bassist and backing vocalist has perfectly taken on the role of lead vocalist. The new formation has definitely not hurt the band’s signature sound; Of Mice & Men is one of the rare bands that still perfectly captures that late 2000’s-style of metalcore. This style of songwriting accompanied by Pauley’s vocals perfectly shine through in songs like ‘Back To Me’ and ‘Sunflower’.
Halfway through the album we’re greeted by an interesting, groovy rendition of Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ that does feel a bit like the album’s ‘outsider’. While still blending in with the rest of the songs, it has a distinctly blues-like feel to it which makes it stand out from the rest of the songs on Defy, but definitely not in a bad way.
If the title-track to this album was indeed a warning, then it was probably for ‘Warzone’. The fast riffs, angry vocals and heavy breakdowns in this song are surprisingly accompanied by a positive chorus. “Breathe in tranquility, breathe in serenity” which are two words that our adrenaline-filled brains definitely didn’t remember.
The band makes a nod to some of their older albums, ‘The Flood’ and ‘Of Mice & Men’, with their song ‘Forever YDG’n’. ‘Forever YDG’n’ (YDG meaning ‘Yadig?!’) seems to be a subtle message to their fans and listeners. Despite the fact that the band is now working with a new lineup, they haven’t changed in what they think and what they want. This song certainly shows that the band hasn’t changed; as much as it is a gentle nod towards the doubters, it’ll make you bang your head like you’re listening to SECOND & SEBRING for the first time all over again.
Defy concludes with the calmest song on the album, ‘If We Were Ghosts’, which shows a strong resemblance with Meteora-era Linkin Park. A beautiful melancholy echo throughout the entire song. The song ends with the emotional line “I have to wait until I get to the other side, ‘cause I never got to say goodbye”. Of Mice & Men truly shows their versability with this beautiful song. Their ability to capture both raw anger and melancholy has once again reminded us of how strong this band is, both lyrically and musically.
Defy certainly does not come up short when compared to Of Mice & Men’s older albums. They have perfectly captured Austin Carlile’s energy without lingering in the past. Of Mice & Men is back, but this album makes it feel like they were never out of the running to begin with.
WORDS: MILAN JOOSTE