For Fans Of
Let’s go all the way back to 2009 when Austin Carlile, the original vocalist of technojunkcore band Attack Attack!, and bassist Jaxin Hall founded a band they named Of Mice & Men (after the classic novella by John Steinbeck). The band released their debut, self-titled album on March 9, 2010. Around the same time Carlile parted ways with Of Mice & Men due to conflicts within the band and his need for heart surgery. Jeremy Roush, formerly of Sky Eats Airplane, took his spot. Months later bassist Jaxin Hall left. Fast-forward to 2011, Carlile is back on vocals, Roush is out, rhythm guitarist Shayley Bourget has moved to bass and newcomer Alan Ashby has been slotted in his spot. Now that you’ve had time to digest, let’s get down to business.
In January 2011 the refreshed and restructured Of Mice & Men rejoined producer Joey Sturgis (a favourite among almost every metalcore band known to man, woman and alien) to record their second album The Flood. With this release they have built on the potential they showed with their debut, and then took it up a notch.
From the very beginning, ‘O.G. Loko’ makes it obvious that Of Mice & Men have worked hard to perfect their sound. Carlile’s thrashing, brutal vocals as well as heavy guitar riffs from ax-duo Alan Ashby and Phil Manansala and thumping bass from Shayley Bourget set the tone of the album right from the start. It is going to be heavy and you are going to like it. Second track ‘Ben Threw’ will definitely be a live favourite. Bourget’s clean vocals (which prove to be the strongest part of the Of Mice & Men unit) only come in half way through the song, but the wait makes them that much stronger. With Bourget we also get a taste of Carlile’s clean vocals, proving that he does have some vocal diversity. Throughout the album it is clear that Of Mice & Men have caught onto the strength of Bourget’s vocals and have used them a lot more than on the previous album. ‘Still YDG’N’ draws an immediate connection with the opening track of the debut release, however it is obvious by now that this album is a lot more thought out and personal than its predecessor. ‘My Understandings’ slows it down and sees Bourget take the wheel with Carlile backing him up, while ‘Ohioisonfire’ is brutal from the get go and is sure to leave a wave of destruction on every mosh pit it passes through. Closing track ‘When You Can’t Sleep At Night’ is the biggest surprise. Completely stripped back, you are left with an acoustic guitar, some strings and Bourget’s outstanding vocals. This track may feel out of place but it definitely proves that Of Mice & Men aren’t just your generic metalcore band.
The Flood is a strong release in a genre that has become increasingly overpopulated and somewhat predictable. It is noticeable that The Flood doesn’t use as many big breakdowns as usual, a common factor and seemingly integral part of metalcore music. Of Mice & Men prove they aren’t reliant on them. Although it is obvious the band is changing things up, there is a sense of repetitiveness as the album moves forward. Carlile’s vocals –while unique in sound – are very limited in range and at times can become tiresome. However, the completeness of the songs make up for it. In all ways the band have grown and evolved over the last two drama-filled years.
Controversy aside, Of Mice & Men has moved forward in leaps and bounds with the release of The Flood. While it doesn’t reinvent the metalcore wheel, it does prove there is more to Of Mice & Men than big breakdowns and monotonic screams. The Flood proves that Of Mice & Men should be taken seriously. It is heavy, it is loud, and you can definitely hear how much effort the band have put in to make this album the best it can be. Forget what you have heard, what you have read and what you think you know about Of Mice & Men. The Flood is here to wash slates clean and is sure to leave a sea of carnage in its path.
1. O.G. Loko
2. Ben Threw
3. Letting You Go
4. Still YDG’n
5. My Understandings
8. Product Of A Murderer
9. Repeating Apologies
10. The Great Hendowski
11. I’m A Monster
12. When You Can’t Sleep At Night