Review: Of Mice & Men – Of Mice & Men

Artist: Of Mice & Men
Album: Of Mice & Men
Genre: Post Hardcore/Hardcore
Label: Rise

Ever since his departure from Attack! Attack!, Austin Carlile has been a person of interest throughout the music scene. His ear drum destroying scream and brutally honest lyrics made ears perk up all over the world and when it was announced he was working on a new project called Of Mice & Men. many were sold before a note was ever recorded. Many months later, that excitement is still building as the band is finally preparing to release their self titled debut record via Rise Records this March. Unfortunately, the album’s delay, mixed with the band’s high exposure rate over the past few month’s may have set expectations a bit too high for this filler laced record.

While there are a lot of solid elements to the opening tracks, Of Mice & Men don’t throw many punches over the first few songs. Sure it’s heavy and yes, Carlile is at his peak vocally, but from early on it is apparent the band is going to need to pull of something fresh or something epic in order to carry their weight in this scene and the album is definitely lacking any “it” tracks. Finally, the riff to “Westbound & Down” does offer quite a bit of promise, but at this point, Carlile’s consistently heavy, yet empty wails have already begun to wear out their welcome.

No one is saying the man can’t scream. On the contrary, I think he has one of the most throat-tearingly harsh and in your face voices on the market, but it rarely wavers in terms of depth and pitch and that simply grows old. Even tracks with truly epic moments, like “Farewell to Shady Glade” and the closing “This One’s for You” falter as Carlile’s consistent, but eventually boring vocals continue to hit with the same pitch and impact again and again.

We get it, you can scream, but what about changing it up and letting the superb instrumentation shine on the record rather than showcasing the same monotone screams again and again. It’s in your face hard and often, but it’s also in one ear and blurred together with every other talented, but ultimately unskilled heavy band in the scene.

Speaking of musicianship, there’s a lot to take in the very chug driven “Ballad of Tommy Clayton & The Rawding Millionaire.” While the drums pound on through the verses with punk attitude, the dueling guitars in the hook really pull you into the track. Add the one true standout breakdown moment and you have what is easily the best track on the album which sets up a lot of hope for the remaining tracks and helps carry the listener on. Sadly, the already overexposed “Seven Thousand Miles For What” simply continues much of the feel of the previous track without changing the game enough to keep it feeling fresh [outside of a solid guitar riff in the verses].

Of Mice & Men truly bring the heavy with their self titled debut, but the album seems to plateau early and remain that way in terms of vocals and originality. I’d really like to see more emphasis on what seems to be the very skilled musicians in the group and have less of Carlile’s engaging, but ultimately monotone screams as they really bring down the album the farther along it gets. Also, can we do away with “clean” vocals and slow hooks? If you wanna be heavy, bring on the chants, anthems, etc. Stop trying to be epic at 22 for the sake of being epic.

This release showcases the fact that Of Mice & Men have the makings of the great rock band. There’s simply a lack of depth and fans will quickly pick up on it unless the band acts fast and starts evolving ASAP.

Breakdowns won’t save you forever.

Score: 5.5/10
Review written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Nice review man, very well written. I agree with pretty much everything you said.

  • doesn’t matter

    yeah yeah whatever OF MICE AND MEN is just so awsome.They were awsome with Austin in it and they are still awsome without him of course we miss him but we have to move on. P.S if you have nothing nice to say then keep your fuckin mouth shut;)