In a little more than a handful of years, California’s Of Mice And Men went from metalcore newcomers to one of the greatest American rock bands today. They did this by making fine albums and touring constantly, building rabid following, and being all about their fans. However, the road to the top has not been easy by any means.
Frontman Austin Carlile’s well documented health issues, resulting from Marfan Syndrome, which has seen him struggle mightily with his health. In the last calendar year Carlile has had three major surgeries (including an operation on his brain), that definitely informed the making of Cold World (Rise Records). While recovering, Carlile weaned himself off of all pain killers and mood altering drugs, which would be a lot to process for anybody. In spite of those odds, this album is a triumph of music and soul. The band as a whole has turned in perhaps their best, most complete album to date.
Opening with the atypical ‘Game Of War’, the track has Carlile crooning in his perfect, emotive mid-range. From the first worlds of the album title in the lyrics, escaping his lips, immediately this is a different level of talent and style then he has shown before. Gently building, wringing all the feels out of you with each note, the track is a mature masterpiece. Not unlike some of the lighter moments from Nine Inch Nails, Puscifer, or Linkin Park, not a band used to inspiring throngs of fans to mosh and scream aloud.
Second track ‘The Lie’ is in the mold of the sweeping rock anthem we are accustomed to from the band, a tailor-made a sing a long. Besides being infectiously tuneful, it has a killer breakdown towards the end. ‘Real’ is another rousing track, with fine lyrics and a head-nodding beat. Another early cut, ‘Like A Ghost’ is heavy and slick sounding. It’s almost like a mid-era Korn track, with Carlile, affecting the high, nasal style like Jonathan Davis. It’s not my favorite voicing he uses, but it contrasts well with his lower range on the verses.
The rest of the album is just as varied, and definitely more cultured sounding than some of the past OMAM albums. It seems like they spent a lot of time writing, and refining these 13 tracks. The songs are short with little fat on them. Even when there is a great chorus, and there are many, they don’t beat it to death, which is a good sign.
More of the metalcore heaviness comes back on tracks such as ‘Contagious’, the stellar sounding ‘Pain’, ‘The Hunger’, and ‘Relentless’. There are a few interludes sprinkled in between, but they are more for mood than anything else. The final two full songs ‘Away’ and ‘Transfigured’, mine some of the same heart as the opening cut, deep and emotional power ballads.
With everything they have been through, you definitely find yourself rooting for these guys. With music like this, it’s easy to get behind them.
[amazon asin=B01HO16JNO&template=iframe image1]