Sound — 8
In 2008, metalcore band Attack Attack! released their first album, "Someday Came Suddenly." The album was known for it's use of electronic elements and great use of the synth, although many people in the metal world thought the album was polarizing due to its less than intricate guitar playing. Nevertheless it was a huge success in the scene and extending the pliable electronicore genre, not to mention the inadvertently hilarious music video for "Stick Stickly."
When lead screamer Austin Carlile was out of the band for whatever reason, he decided to work on his musical career, and with his fellow band mates, Of Mice & Men was born!
Of Mice & Men have released their eponymous debut album, and it's a solid piece in the metalcore genre, but also draws from post-hardcore occasionally. Their are loose similarities from Attack Attack! first album, albeit without the autotune and synth use. The rhythm guitar, courtesy of Shayley Bourget, sounds solid and prevents the album from sounding monotonous. The tone of the guitars are more engaging and have a southern drawl which makes the songs more playful. Do not fret, the breakdowns are still there, in abundance. They are brutal. The lead guitar, while used occasionally, is prominent. The bass tends to stay behind the music, as does most songs in this genre, although I was too wowed by the other instruments to make it out.
The choruses, mostly done by Shayley Bourget, add a lively sound and really engages the listener with a different feel from other choruses.
The album has a nice solid sound, although there were only a few moments where I was really drawn in, like the breakdown in "They Don't Call it the South for Nothing."
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics have a nice depth and, when audible, make the listener want to know more about them. Unlike on "Someday Came Suddenly," the lyrics don't have any Christian themes to them. The lyrics range from different topics. Most notably Austin Carlile and his mother on, "Second & Sebring."
Austin Carlile does the majority of the vocals on Of Mice & Men, and for good reason: his scream. I don't know how he does it. It's like a high pitched diaphragm fry. It sounds very bold. The only downside to his vox is that they only stay in the one range, with the occasional very slightly lower & higher portions, which is a shame because he has a great low if he worked on it more. Putting it short, only two things can happen when you listen to Austin Carlile: you're either intrigued and want to listen more, or your headphones fly across the room.
Doing the clean vocals on this album is rhythm guitarist Shayley Bourget. He has an innovative voice, which sounds more suited for progressive music rather than metalcore. He shines in choruses, although his voice may have an unsettling effect on a few listeners.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, Of Mice & Men have found a nice sound to work with. The band seems to have a fluent sound and it all blends very well. While I won't spoil much with this album, their are a few stand out songs. The band seems to switch notes well, avoiding a monotonous pit where all the songs sound the same.
A few songs on this album show where the band excels, notably "Second & Sebring," "John Deux Trois," and "They Don't Call it the South for Nothing," and this is just the first half of the album.
Of Mice & Men offer a refreshing look on metalcore & post-hardcore with "Of Mice & Men." It offers a nice balance between the two genres. If you haven't listened to metalcore before, I'd suggest this as a first time listen.