Cold World review by Of Mice & Men

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Sep 9, 2016
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 4.8 (21 votes)
Of Mice & Men: Cold World

Sound — 7
Ah. The classic "metalcore band goes soft" routine. This scenario has played out numerous times with bands like Bring Me The Horizon, Asking Alexandria, and in the genre in general with bands like Issues, and Of Mice & Men is no exception to this. After their much heavier, more technical first two records, Of Mice & Men began to flirt with more mainstream hard rock tones on 2014's "Restoring Force." More clean vocals, cleaner and simpler production, less technical instrumental playing, elements of nu-metal and alt-metal, and more standard song structures, those traits have all made themselves apparent on the new album, "Cold World."

Straight from the opening track, "Game of War," the change in this band is pretty evident. With not a single shred of metal riffage or harsh vocals in sight for the entirety of the track's four minute length, it instead relies on vaguely Tool-esque bass and vocal interplay, ambient synths and piano, and sounds like it could have come straight off any mainstream hard rock album made in the beginning of the previous decade. All things considered, it's actually a pretty decent tune, and a cool way to open up the album. "The Lie" follows, displaying more of the heavier hard rock sound the band started tapping into on "Restoring Force," featuring some Linkin Park-style shouted vocals, a very simple chorus, and a weird sort of synth intro.

These two tracks opening the album represent the extremes of the style the band went for on this record, though most of the songs sound more like "The Lie" than "Game of War." Throughout the record, the riffs remain fairly simple, though there are sometimes some unique turns like the 5/4 time signature of "Like a Ghost" and the heavier riffage in "Pain," the only track on the album to pretty much lack any clean vocals. Shades of nu-metal are all over the track "Relentless" with verse vocals that could have come straight out of the rap-metal era. The album also has a couple of brief instrumental interludes, "-" and "+," which are really just short breather episodes, barely worth mentioning as songs on their own, but they do sort of break the mood of the album for a brief time frame.

YouTube preview picture

The songwriting on this album is not bad, and the band does show a few tinges of creativity, and it seems like they're wearing some rather decent influences on their sleeve (you'd swear you were hearing them channel Tool on the beginning of "The Hunger"), but overall there's nothing on this album that really grabs my attention for being special. Most of the songs kind of have the same structure, with the riffs and the weird guitar noises happening exactly where you'd expect them, the choruses having the same expected melodies, and mostly just kind of plodding along. It's an album that kind of just passes you by, if you're not paying strict attention to it.

The instrumental playing is also not really anything special. Alan Ashby's and Phil Manansala's guitar playing isn't going to win any awards for originality, and Aaron Pauley's bass playing and Valentino Arteaga's drumming, while definitely in the pocket, are still nothing really special. Austin Carlile's vocals are really the only immediately recognizable trait for this band, and even they kind of sound a little too derivative. On the plus side, David Bendeth's production is actually really good on this release, with a lot of sonic breathing room and good separation between a lot of the instruments.

Lyrics — 7
Of Mice & Men, like pretty much every metalcore band out there, tends to focus on vaguely personal, dark, emotional lyrics throughout the release of "Cold World." Word for word, I found the lyrics on this release to be better than some of the average metalcore bands who tend to drown their songs in sorrowful melodrama, since these at least seem to be a bit more thoughtful, such as these verse in "Game of War":

"Cruel world, captivating
Hollow, eaten alive from the inside
Rapture, kind decision
Old eyes can't take much more though I still try

Cause I'm waiting for the war to end
But are we just ending to begin again?
If patience is so virtuous
Then maybe I'll be damned"

Then there are the typical sort of "inspirational" lyrics you get with these metalcore-turned-soft kind of bands, like these from the chorus of the song "Relentless":

"No I won't quit, get over it, you'll never win
I will survive, I am relentless
And I will fight to stay alive cause you know I
I will survive, I am relentless"

They're really nothing special, as far as metalcore lyrics go, but the message is fine enough, and they don't bother me nearly as much as many other bands in this genre do. Austin Carlile's singing skills are also nothing really special, but he does do a fairly adequate job on this album, and I can't really fault his vocal style for anything specific, other than the fact that maybe he sounds a little too much like a few other vocalists (Mike Semesky, ex-Intervals, and Nathan Ells, ex-The Human Abstract, come to mind immediately), but that really comes down to personal preference.

Overall Impression — 7
So has softening their sound worked in Of Mice & Men's favour? Admittedly, I had never really been able to get into their early works, and I find the changes the band has made to their sound over the past two albums to be welcome, to a point. They did make a bit of a trade off for their originality by switching to a more mainstream-friendly sound, and that could hurt the band's sound as well. There are some decent songs, and much like with my review of the recent The Amity Affliction album, I found the opening track to be the strongest due to its rather drastic difference in sound compared to the rest of the album. "The Hunger" is also another really good track, with a bit more of an almost strangely proggy and sludgy vibe to it, and some really cool vocal melodies. But on the whole, the album came off as a bit same-y, a bit unoriginal, and just not that special overall. If you were a fan of the changes to the band's style on "Restoring Force," you'll likely enjoy this album. If not, you might want to find another band, since they really took those stylistic changes to their ultimate conclusion with this album.

So overall, it's not really a bad record, but not really a great one, either. Probably good for a listen or two, and the opening track "Game of War" is definitely worth checking out.

28 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Judging by these 4 videos: "Pain" - sounds like an early Slipknot "Real" - just new Linkin Park "Contagious" - something in the vein of Korn + a bit of Linkin Park "Game of War" - total Tool/A Perfect Circle ripoff Though the songs are not so bad, the main question is: where's the originality and the band's own face?
    What about Relentless being a Kid Rock meets Breaking Benjamin sort of thing? Dear God, I could not get into that song.. Also, the chorus of that song reminds me a lot of Red. The opening riffs to Away remind me a lot of Aerials by System of a Down.
    Oh god, I desperately tried not to hear any Kid Rock in that song, but now that you say it, yeah, that's gonna stick with me for a while ._.
    Yeah man, it sounds probably just as bad, if not worse than Attila. Speaking of which, they just dropped a cringy new song today lol.
    Pretty much everything is a rip-off of everything else; there hasn't been original sounding music in a long, long time. 2 options - 1) dwell on it, compare everything to everything else, or 2) get over the fact that originality is no longer a "thing" and hasn't been in quite some time and enjoy/despise the music you're listening to on its own merit.
    Never seen a band go from metalcore to nu metal.
    It's actually pretty cool.
    Fair enough. Not really my scene anymore. Just a surprising change for me.
    Are you into a lot of nu-metal? I notice you comment a lot on those reviews in particular. Not knocking this album btw. I think it has its moments.
    Indeed I am. I grew up immersed in the whole scene back in 1999. I left the genre for a bit falling in love with guitar based smooth jazz and piano jazz but came back to Nu-Metal in the past few years. It gets a lot of flack but in this day and age it's quite refreshing. How about yourself?
    Here and there, but I'd say I left it when it was dying out so in between the year after I graduated high school (2012) to whenever it started rising back up, which I would say when Issues dropped their debut album in 2014, but I wasn't a huge fan of it at first. It does have its moments though. Bands such as My Ticket Home, Islander, and Sylar seem to be bringing it back too. MtH, and Sylar in particular who changed their sound from a fairly generic metalcore band before into nu-metal now. I don't think Sylar is really breaking any new grounds, but I love the clean vocals on Miguel. Sounds just like Benji of Skindred.
    Good god.... what happened to this band? Is this really the same group who released YDG and Second & Seabring? *sigh*
    I liked restoring force, not a fan of this. I personally would love some more songs like 'my understandings' and 'public service announcement'. Never liked linkin park
    I didn't like it at first. but after about 5 listenings, I can honestly say its a really good album. different, but it has great songs that each have their own vibe. I dig this record a lot!
    My favorite song from this album is "The Lie". Beyond that and possibly "Pain", the rest of the album is instantly forgettable.
    My problem with The Lie is Austin says it's "O.G. Loko part two". So basically, they reused the same generic breakdown. Don't get me wrong, I think O.G. has a lot better riffage, but the band itself is very inconsistent. Once in awhile, like the opening riffs to Real and Pain would stand out, then the rest of the song is a snoozefest, regarding the guitar work.
    I like it. Probably a 7 for me. Now can we get a review for the Dear Hunter: Act V?
    There's so many albums dropping lately I'm worried UG won't review all of them either lol.
    You're telling me, it's gonna be hard to get all this month's reviews done, but I think I can manage
    I asked on the TAA review, but any chance on covering Knocked Loose? They're a newer band I think you'd enjoy and I highly doubt anyone else is covering them. Maybe Sam. Idk. If not, I could try to squeeze it in my schedule for fun.
    I didn't even think to ask to do that one this month. Guess I just stopped caring about them after their last few albums.
    I really enjoyed Of Mice and Men's first two albums. The third was very boring. I'll give this one a listen but I'm keeping my expectations low