Friday 26 January 2018

Album Review: OF MICE & MEN - Defy

Of Mice & Men - Defy
01. Defy
02. Instincts
03. Back To Me
04. Sunflower
05. Unbreakable
07. Money (Pink Floyd cover)
08. How Will You Live
09. On The Inside
10. Warzone
11. Forever YDG'n
12. If We Were Ghosts

Defy is Of Mice & Men's fifth album, and the first since the departure of lead singer Austin Carlile, who suffers with the debilitating Marfan syndrome, and stepped down from his role in late 2016. Bassist Aaron Pauley has stepped up as the band's sole lead singer, taking on the Hardcore screams in addition to his clean vocals.

The album kicks off with the title track which is an energised slab of rhythmic Nu Metal, reminiscent of classic Spineshank and American Head Charge. It's quickly followed by the more brutal Instincts, where Aaron gets to show off his blood curdling Hardcore screams as well as his melodic singing voice, bringing to mind obvious comparisons with Killswitch Engage, and latter day Atreyu. There's also a gnarly riff thrown in there that would be worthy of Slipknot's Jim Root himself.

In contrast, Back To Me is much more commercial and brings to mind the kind of mainstream Heavy Rock that's hugely popular in America such as Breaking Benjamin and Stone Sour. Unbreakable is in a similar vein, and screams radio hit.

Other personal favourites include On The Inside, and the chilled finale If We Were Ghosts.

If Of Mice & Men went in a time machine to 2002 and presented this record to Roadrunner or a major label, they'd be snapped up instantly, and probably go on to sell a million copies. The word 'Metalcore' gets used to describe them a lot in the press, as 'Nu Metal' is currently deemed as really un-cool. However, make no mistake, Defy is a full-on Nu Metal album. It reminds me of so many successful bands from that scene, but in a cohesive way. Listening to Defy brought up memories of 'Planets' era Adema, Ill Nino, and pretty much everything off the 2003 Freddy vs Jason soundtrack.

Aside from the huge nostalgia element, Defy has a lot going for it. The production is crisp and everything sounds massive! The album itself is packed full of great songs. Most of the Nu Metal bands that made it big didn't have records this strong. They had two or three huge hits at best, and a load of fillers. Defy, however, is very consistent, delivering plenty of potential singles and no weak moments.


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