01. Integration 02. Warpaint 03. Shiver 04. Eternal Pessimist 05. Into The Sun 06. Enraptured 07. Castaway 08. Tether 09. Indigo 10. Zephyros
Worthy of the name pulled from a John Steinbeck novel, California metalcore band, OF MICE & MEN, has maintained a solid fanbase since their founding in 2009 with their mix of heavy and melodic music, even amid a bevy of lineup changes. The band was formed by former lead vocalist Austin Carlile and former bassist Jaxin Hall. Today, neither Carlile nor Hall are in the group, but the fact OF MICE & MEN are still a strong entity is a testament to their strength as both a band and brand.
Their eighth studio album, which follows "Echo", the group's 2021 release, "Tether" was an inside job, and that comes through in the album's organic-sounding music. Frontman Aaron Pauley mixed and mastered the album, and drummer Valentino Arteaga designed and painted the album's artwork. Thematically, OF MICE & MEN don't shy away from personal, difficult themes, such as anxiety, depression, loneliness and the idea of using creative outlets to help improve mental health.
"Integration" sets the listener up for an epic-sounding album, as the opening track starts so softly it's almost undetectable before slowly growing into a mid-tempo rock anthem. This certainly falls under the more melodic section of metalcore, those desiring something screamier may opt to move on quickly to the following track, "Warpaint", a heavier track. Garnering attention straightaway with screams and crushing riffs, the rest of the song contrasts well between Pauley's clean, soaring vocals in the choruses to heavier screaming and guitars. "Warpaint" also features an intense breakdown halfway through the song, conjuring up visions of crowd surfing and moshing at the band's live shows.
"Shiver" has an almost BAD OMENS or SLEEP TOKEN vibe, with heavily processed vocals over strong melodic guitars. It's a very modern sound that shows OF MICE & MEN are evolving with trends. Elsewhere, the record offers an even blend of heavy and melodic, leaning more on the latter. "Into the Sun" and the album's title track are melodic standouts, with gorgeous sonics and Pauley's clear, clean singing. "Indigo" recalls a bit of LINKIN PARK, with Pauley's vocals sounding a bit like the late Chester Bennington, which, of course, is a good thing.
OF MICE & MEN continue to grow and change as a band, and "Tether" is a solid piece of their story. While those who prefer more brutal sounding metalcore might be left a bit cold, others who enjoy the genre's massive hooks and melodies will likely be cranking this record for years to come. Even on record eight, OF MICE & MEN are staying limber enough to evolve and push the envelope, creatively.
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