Of Mice & Men

 In Reviews

Of Mice & Men // Earth and Sky
Released: September 27, 2019
Genre: Metalcore, Metal
For fans of: As I Lay Dying, Jamie’s Elsewhere, Trivium
Is it good? It’s their best album since The Flood.

Of Mice & Men have officially returned to heavy music and I couldn’t be more excited. After hating their last three albums so much that I refused to even talk about them, I am stoked to welcome these guys back.

I had my doubts to be sure; almost every big former metalcore band releases a decently heavy single, only to follow it up with underwhelming garbage. Even as OM&M put out heavy single after heavy single, I refused to get my hopes up, knowing it had to be a trick. But it wasn’t. ‘Earth and Sky’ is a heavy album. There’s no qualifier, no caveat, no disappointment.

I was so skeptical that I had to listen to it multiple times to make sure I wasn’t missing something. As soon as I heard the intro to “The Mountain” I sarcastically thought “oh great, here we go”, but 15 seconds later I realized I was wrong once again. I kept waiting for OM&M to falter or stray from the heaviness but it never happened.

Once I fully accepted that one of my favorite bands was making music I wholeheartedly enjoyed again, I began to realize what makes ‘Earth and Sky’ so good: OM&M figured out how to make music that lives up to their aggressive legacy while still appealing to their diverse fan base. I’m immediately reminded of Trivium and As I Lay Dying, bands who mix a lot of metal elements into their music.

I’m convinced OM&M struggled for so long because they didn’t know how to transform their metalcore style into something they could be proud of playing in their 30’s. They needed a sound that was rooted in their past but was also capable of aging with them. That’s exactly what they’ve unlocked on ‘Earth and Sky’.

Aaron Pauley is far from what I’d call a diverse screamer but it works for OM&M because Austin Carlile didn’t have incredible range either. Just like Austin, Aaron hammers home his verses by focusing on subtle changes and capitalizing on his ability to inject intensity.

Although this album is different from what As I Lay Dying and Trivium are doing, it has the same thread of straight up metal woven throughout the instruments. There are a few breakdowns but they aren’t the main attraction anymore. Instead, the tracks now primarily feature a solid line of progression. That might not seem as exciting, but there are so few heavy bands doing it well that it actually becomes a strong selling point.

I have to say, writing this review immediately after the As I Lay Dying review is giving me serious flashbacks to 2010 (and I’m probably going to do The Devil Wears Prada’s next to keep it going). It’s crazy because if you showed 10th grade me the new albums from OM&M and AILD, without telling me everything they went through during the ten years in between, I would have been impressed by both bands’ evolution. That says a lot about the tribulations they’ve faced and the obstacles they’ve overcome.

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