The climb to success is rarely without slips or derailing obstacles; a fact that Californian Metallers Of Mice & Men have recently found during what has proven to be their most successful time period, and also their most punishing and challenging. Having shared stages with absolute titans of the Rock and Metal world, such as supporting Linkin Park, they also began to show signs of wear, with previous album Cold World (Rise) highlighting frontman Austin Carlisle’slingering health issues that led to his departure.
The loss of a talismanic and long-time component, whilst being under the biggest spotlight the band had experienced to date, would be a breaking point for many groups, so it’s a testament to their character that OM&M have not only adapted with bassist Aaron Pauley taking on lead vocal duties, but by releasing an album that both matches their new arena status and may just well be their strongest to date in Defy (Rise Records).
Flying out of the blocks with an anthemic title track proves a clear signal of intent of a band not resting on their laurels, nor of them dropping their heads in the wake of their woes, with a rabble-rousing, positive messaged number which is surely destined to open future shows with aplomb. Throughout, it is clear that Pauley is very suited to fronting the band, with well executed and balanced harsh vocals and commanding clean singing. Alongside this, he and his bandmates deliver hugely accessible songs, all with a surprising depth and range, as their memorable song-writing ranges from polyrhythmic riffs, towering sing-along choruses and from fast-paced mosh-pit fodder to fist-pumping mid-paced numbers, which are certainly their most impactful and catchy for some time. Even the near sacrilegious move of a Pink Floyd cover proves a fun inclusion which showcases their arena suited credentials.
Whilst Defy may lack the grit and dirt of many of their peers and even compared to some of their earliest works, and does feel pretty polished, it is clear that this was an album made to be bellowed across massive venues, and on that front it can only succeed. In terms of accessible, instant and mammoth songs, Defy will take some beating.