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Of Mice & Men: Defy

When I last encountered Of Mice & Men, many years ago, the impression I was left with was that they were a snot nosed metalcore act waving their hands in the air to get all the kiddies excited… and not much more. So when they obliterated all before them when opening for Five Finger Death Punch and In Flames on their recent UK tour, it was a real jaw dropper. It's no exaggeration to suggest they were pretty damn awesome, and so is Defy, the band's first offering since the departure of troubled singer Austin Carlile. His replacement however is no newcomer, bassist and 'clean' singer Aaron Pauley stepping up to take on the aggressive vocal duties as well. It's fair to suggest he's a revelation and a huge reason why Defy is the huge success it is.

However a singer alone does not make a band, therefore it's fitting that before Pauley has even opened his mouth this album's title track absolutely steamrolls out of the traps. Murderously thick riffing bites, tears and hammers the senses, Phil Manansala and Alan Ashby setting a tone they repeat again, again and again. Once Pauley's snarling rasp digs in deep, you know this band are in safe hands and it's simply time to sit back and let the whole damn thing thunder over you. This is still, at its heart, metalcore but in truth what OM&M have become is just a mighty fine metal beast with a barrowload of killer cuts and the smarts to know how to unveil them with pinpoint precision. "Instincts" is the prime example, the guitars delivering a deadly body blow that just doesn't diminish. With the drum damage dealt from behind the kit of Valentino Arteaga enough to destroy a small planet, what's really clever is that Defy doesn't play the same cards on every hand. "Back To Me" alludes to a time gone by, a more melodic approach aligned to a crackingly clean vocal, while a cover of Pink Floyd's "Money" shocks by not being the thoroughly crazy, over ambitious move you presume it will. To their credit the manner in which this new version sounds like it belongs perfectly with the rest of the songs on this album, while still being immediately recognisable as the classic track it is, is impressive indeed. However Defy doesn't stand or fall on this band's ability to cover other outfits' material, "On The Inside" a hook laden push and shove with a punky heart, "Forever YDG'n" a riff laden stomper of the highest order and "Warzone" exploding with the ferocity a song with that name should.

Defy is mighty. Defy is heavy. Defy is melodic. Defy is the sound of a band reaching their true potential. Of Mice & Men have finally arrived.

Track Listing
1. Defy
2. Instincts
3. Back to Me
4. Sunflower
5. Unbreakable
6. Vertigo
7. Money
8. How Will You Live
9. On the Inside
10. Warzone
11. Forever YDG'n
12. If We Were Ghosts

Added: February 3rd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Of Mice & Men online
Hits: 885
Language: english

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