O V E R V I E W
Of Mice & Men are no strangers to adversity. It seems that the band has had to constantly deal with it, especially what feels like a revolving door of member and directional changes, leading to a band that was once at the forefront of leading a sound searching for their own identity.
For the uninitiated, the band started out as a metalcore band with Shayley Bougart (singer) and Austin Carlile (screamer/frontman) and after Shayley’s departure the band slowly shifted towards a more nu metal sound. With the departure of Carlile and Aaron Pauley’s move to frontman, they started to inch toward their metal roots. The first album with Pauley taking over all vocal duties was Defy. The band flashed glimpses of their former selves, but seemed to bounce back and forth between a more radio rock driven sound and a heavier, metal approach. With EARTHANDSKY, a more solid footing seems to have been found once again.
F L O W / L O N G E V I T Y / O R I G I N A L I T Y
If I’m going to be honest, Of Mice & Men are not trying to reinvent the wheel with EARTHANDSKY and because of that, they created an album that is a metal record through and through. The band has definitely chosen to fully embrace their heavy roots, which sees them completely ditching the odd nu metal sound that was present when Carlile was the frontman. It has allowed for them to finally settle on who they wanted to be as a band and that is a heavy, metal focused band with blistering riffs, soaring choruses and frantic drums. The band isn’t trying to chase mainstream radio plays or a make a 360 in their core sound like so many metal and core bands seem to be doing these days. They won’t earn a lot of originality points with this record, but honestly that’s completely okay. It is refreshing to see a band return to what made them in the first place and clearly it’s where they seem to be at their most comfortable. From a flow perspective, EARTHANDSKY is a rather smooth listen with nothing feeling too out of place, while proceed through at a blistering pace, rarely giving the listener time to slow down, which should appease those looking for something more up-tempo these days. Ultimately, this isn’t a groundbreaking album but many are sure to get enjoyment out of it.
Stream, buy and download “Taste of Regret” here: https://RiseRecords.lnk.to/EARTHANDSKY New record “EARTHANDSKY” from Of Mice & Men out September 27th! You’re wretched, spewing venom, In every single lie that you tell Feigning all emotion, when facing the consequence, Of your own personal hell.
V O C A L S / I N S T R U M E N T A T I O N
There is plenty to love about EARTHANDSKY, but one of the standouts is frontman Aaron Pauley who continues to improve on the delivery of both his cleans and unclean vocals, definitely showing growth from album to album. This is especially important since EARTHANDSKY is such a return form and one of their heavier efforts, requiring the execution of both vocal phases to be on point — and they definitely are here. The transition from heavy, shrieking screams to infectious, melodic singing is one of the highlights of the album. It brings back memories of the bands early days when they would jump between ferocious and melodic vocals. Instrumentally the band doesn’t stray to far from the familiar; there are plenty of breakdowns to be found throughout the record, but thankfully they aren’t overdone and are executed on well. The drumming on the record is what you would expect on a metal record and provides a good backbone.
C O M P O S I T I O N / P R O D U C T I O N
Lyrically the album can be hit or miss at times as there are points were the lyrics are emotional and resonate well and other times they just come across cheesy. One such example of this is on “Mushroom Cloud”, where the “three, two, one boom” verses on the song come off a bit too on the nose. It doesn’t become too much of a problem however and doesn’t break the record, but should be noted that for those looking for more in depth lyrical content might be better off looking elsewhere. Production wise, the album comes across crisp and concise with guitar tones that are sludgy and punishing. Honestly, every element on the album seems to mesh together well with nothing overpowering the other.
F I N A L T H O U G H T S
EARTHANDSKY ends up being a welcome return to form for the band. With the bands tumultuous history and revolving door of membership, it seems like that the band is finally stabilizing and realizing who they want to be moving forward. The future is trending up for Of Mice & Men and fans can rest easy knowing that stable ground has been found. EARTHANDSKY is sure to pull back in fans of their older material who weren’t a fan of the nu metal direction they were going in and any fans of the metal genre will find a lot to love about the album, even if there isn’t a lot of originality to be found. The band is at their best form when they stay true to their heavy roots. Not every record needs to be a huge innovation or directional shift and Of Mice & Men do just enough to keep things sounding fresh and remain engaging without compromising their identity or abandoning their heavy roots.