The first shot in quality metalcore for 2018

Losing a well liked vocalist can be hard for any band no matter how big or small. OM&M were once again on the up and up when vocalist Austin Carlile had to leave citing health issues. Having been through this once before, rather than get another vocalist from outside, the decision was made to let bassist Aaron Pauley step in to take all vocal duties.

‘Defy’ opens with a clean guitar tone and allows the listener to hold their breath to see if Pauley has the chops to fill in the heavier shouts that held a part of the bands sound together. The good news is that the first vocal lines are heavy shouts as if to get that tooth pulled straight away.

Continuing to prove that the band has lost no momentum ‘Instincts’ follows up in a much more hardcore vein, opening with some great drumming before an all too familiar stomp and crunch from the guitars with more great vocal work shining through. A great guitar solo helps the song to be an early favourite.

Defy sticks to the rather rigid metalcore formulas that Of Mice & Men has set for themselves, while also staying lyrically positive, covering the challenges they’ve had and getting through by closing ranks and moving on. It’s an album about personal growth and overcoming personal adversity,  best exemplified on ‘Unbreakable’ and its follow up ‘Vertigo’ that sounds like something alt-metal that may have been huge in the late 90’s.

Most surprising is cover of ‘Money’ that springs up in the middle of the album. The band makes it their own, but as a big Pink Floyd fan it took me a couple of listens to admit that it isn’t THAT bad. As if to prove their heavy cred, ‘Warzone’ is almost a complete thrash/crossover track that for the first couple of minutes of its run time shows a different direction they could succeed at if they so chose.

Some mention needs to made of the final track ‘If We Were Ghosts’, a quiet dedication to their friend Chester Bennington who died while Defy was being recorded. A very melancholy acoustic track, it again shows Of Mice & Men their own a little outside of their normal musical boundaries and allows Pauley to further prove why they didn’t need to find a vocalist outside of the band.

While the formula used here isn’t really anything new, it’s really about the way in which it is applied throughout and the different moods that are created with the great combination of heartfelt lyrics and musical heft. If you have always rallied against bands of this ilk this won’t really do anything to change your mind, but if you are looking for something a little different, Of Mice & Men may have just fired the first shot in quality metalcore for 2018.

  1. Defy
  2. Instincts
  3. Back To Me
  4. Sunflower
  5. Unbreakable
  6. Vertigo
  7. Money
  8. How Will You Live
  9. On The Inside
  10. Warzone
  11. Forever YDG’N
  12. If We Were Ghosts