Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Review: Of Mice & Men 'Cold World'

An adoring fan-base, an impressive live show and a pulsating level of intensity. These are just three of several elements which over the past six years have combined to make Of Mice & Men one of the true flag bearers for up and coming bands in the metal genre. Previous album ‘Restoring Force’ saw the Californians begin to step away from their previously metal-core roots, the result was a sound that was admittedly less intense; but still packed enough of a punch to allow Of Mice & Men’s stock continue to rise, to the point where the quintet currently find themselves perched high on the mountain of current day metal bands.

Through adversity, mainly coming from frontman Austin Carlile’s health problems (honestly, the fact Austin was even able to record this album deserves endless respect) comes new album ‘Cold World’ and while its predecessor was stepping away from metal-core – ‘Cold World’ finds itself on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

Insane, kitchen sink styled songs such as ‘Second & Sebring’ and ‘The Depths’ which can be found on previous OM&M records won’t be found here. Instead what can be found is a collection of songs that bring with them more edgy, riff lead and intent filled songs which seem to have been crafted with the intention of coming across strongly in arenas – the type of venues the band seem destined to be heading towards.

Most surprising about ‘Cold World’ though; is that the album sounds at its best when melodic vocalist/guitarist Aaron Pauley is in control which is something that cannot be said for any previous OM&M records, due to the sheer excellence of Austin Carlile. ‘Real’ ‘Away’ and ‘Transfigured’ all place Pauley at the forefront and have the feeling of big, anthemic rock songs without bleeding into an overly “radio friendly” feel. Pauley’s vocals and the bands musicianship stay effortless and at an incredibly high level.

Best track on the record ‘The Lie’ is where most of the only truly “heavy” moments of ‘Cold World’ live, with Carlile in visceral form on top of a tooth grinding riff which culminates in a chaotic, enthralling breakdown. However these moments are short lived and the track would have greatly benefitted from an extra 45-60 seconds of Austin bringing down hell over a breakdown.

Both ‘Relentless’ and Contagious’ feature Carlile in prominent roles, however the scathing scream vocals that Austin is renowned and loved for appears to be dropped for a style which in general could be described as “aggressive talking” which tends to feature more throughout this record than any other effort OM&M have put out. The result leaves these tracks void of any real heart or vigour leaving a strong taste of generic mediocrity in the mouth.

Even ‘Pain’ which is built around Slipknot esque riffs which slice throughout the track doesn’t quite put over Carlile’s voice as strongly as it has been on previous records – despite this being a solo effort by Austin. With the lack of any real climactic chorus being somewhat of a downfall here.
A lack of a real hook can also be felt on ‘Down The Road’ and ‘Like A Ghost’ which both plod along and standout as your average “album filler” tracks, with neither of them ever seeming to start before they finish.

‘Cold World’ is the story of a previously fantastic metal-core band tightening their grip on the heavy rock audience. Not a poor album by any stretch of the imagination; but fans fixated on Of Mice & Men pre ‘Restoring Force’ will be disappointed here. The OM&M charge of quality still exists, but the voltage has been turned down by around 40%.

Score: 7/10 

Twitter: @OMandM

Fuel Rock Club

Fuel Rock Club
Cardiff's Only Dedicated Rock & Metal Bar and Club