Lineup changes are unfortunately a prevalent event in the musician’s world today. A band surviving even just a few years without having a member or two come and go is considered a major feat. In fact, bands are lucky to even make it through a couple years of existence before internally combusting.
While California natives Of Mice & Men have managed to stay in tact since forming in mid-2009, that’s not to say they haven’t had their share of perplexing lineup changes along the way. The ever maturing metalcore act first shocked their extensive following when they announced the departure of frontman and founding member Austin Carlile, only to anti-climactically reenlist the vocalist 9 months later.
Next, the band left fans with their jaws on the floor as they proceeded to remove critically acclaimed clean vocalist and bassist, Shayley Bourget. Even though OM&M have persevered through their fair share of drama, the have still managed to release two exquisite full-length albums and pulled together a reissue of their sophomore album, The Flood.
With the band not having a clean vocalist at the time of recording, Austin Carlile stepped up to the plate and covered all vocal duties on four new tracks that make up the reissue. The first taste of the new material, entitled “The Calm,” is an intriguingly calm experience. Clocking in just shy of the two-minute mark, the appropriately titled instrumental piece only adds to the destructive effect the remaining three tracks posses.
“The Calm” continues into the same melodic guitar intro on the pernicious “The Storm.” From the first few notes in this monster of a song, it is quite obvious that OM&M have evolved into a musically vast, prodigious force. Some may claim that without Bourget there to contrast Carlile’s mind-bending screeches with his soaring, angelic cleans, Carlile’s performance is overbearing. Fortunately, this is not the case. In fact, it is far from it. Carlile shows his ability to seamlessly transition from his signature shriek to a raspy, anger-filled growl time and time again on the bands new material.
It’s the same on ravenous “The Flood.” It is on this track where we see OM&M at their finest. The extensive use of gang vocals along with Carlile’s filthy screams prove to be where the band have found their niche. From the songs sordid intro to its vile breakdowns, it’s sure to create massive mosh pits, the size of which the band has never created before.
The final track of the new material, “The Depths,” is the least intriguing track out of the band’s new material - and that’s saying something about the other three tracks, because it really isn’t that terrible of a song. The track’s only downfall is its obvious generic nature. Not only do we see overly-common musicianship, but also see the songs somewhat cheesy lyrical content, “Now I want you to jump / I want you to sing / Now I want you to scream with me.” and the chorus, “My body’s failing / I think I’ve hit the floor / I cannot feel anything anymore.” While these lyrics may get fans singing along at times, they aren’t going to gain OM&M any brownie points among the poetic crowd.
Despite the small hint of apathy, OM&M have created a collection of songs that represent a statement. A statement that says no matter who’s in this band or who isn’t, they are still going to be making music - and very good music at that. The fact that these songs are only a preview of what’s to come for the band just shows how much potential OM&M really have. This band has the power to become something amazing, and by the sound of it, that’s exactly what they’re going to do.
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