Image via iTunes
Release Date: January 19, 2018
Artist: Of Mice and Men
Producer: Howard Benson
Personnel: Aaron Pauley (lead vocals, bass), Alan Ashby (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Phil Manansala (lead guitar), Valentino Arteaga (drums, percussion)
Defy is the fifth studio album from Of Mice and Men (OM&M). Hailing from Orange County, California, the metalcore/nu metal/melodic metal/heavy metal band OM&M has been living the American dream by producing music since 2009 and has delivered a respectable effort in Defy.
OM&M has been paying its dues over the years, playing alongside the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Aerosmith, Linkin Park, and Queens of the Stone Age . Last year I had the opportunity to review Shadows Inside, the newest release by another metalcore band Miss May I. Defy marks my second metalcore review, and I’m really starting to gain an appreciation for the metal subgenre.
OM&M’s exact music genre is tough to pinpoint, but they are usually lumped in with the metalcore genre while their musical influence includes Alice in Chains, Korn, Rage Against the Machine, Staind, and Tool. This is not a bad list of bands to emulate.
For Defy, the band saw a change in lead vocalist as the Pensacola, Florida native, Austin Carlile left the band due to health issues as he suffered from Marfan Syndrone. Being a founding member of the band, Carlile left a rather large void to fill – enter bassist Aaron Pauley to assume the lead vocals for the band. Pauley assumes both the clean and growling vocals on the album.
Before the full release of Defy, OM&M has been leaking singles to whet the appetites of their loyal fans in preparation for the full meal. The first two singles, “Unbreakable”, and “Back to Me” were released last spring while “Warzone” and “Defy” were made available last fall. Their fifth and final single, “Money”, sees the band do a sludgy, satisfactory cover of Pink Floyd’s 1973 original.
With a running time just over 45 minutes, Defy is composed of 12 tracks that sees the band take a heavier approach than some of their prior work. “Defy” shows the band trusting their “Instincts” and defying all hopelessness and callousness and seeing through society’s lies. Both tracks immediately showcase Pauley’s vocals and the group’s heavy metal influence, whilst mixing clean and growling vocals for a metalcore flair.
“Back to Me” is about finding yourself after a big event in life, and deviating a bit from the self-centered lyrics of “Back to Me”, “Sunflower” encourages us to find someone else that is going through a rough time and offer a helping hand:
When you see it all around you
When you fight the light that makes you bloom
Before you break
And petals start to fall around you
I can be the one to catch them when you are crashing down
“Forever YDG’n” originated from Phil Manansala’s term “YDG” meaning: Yadig? Believe it or not, Urban Dictionary credits Manansala with coining the term. Not only does the song have a cool story behind it; it’s a catchy and pound your bones to dust kind of song.
Closing the album is “If We Were Ghosts”, written in tribute to the late, Linkin’ Park vocalist Chester Bennington. The older we get, the more people we lose that are closest to us. We may never get a proper goodbye to our loved ones before they pass, so the hope of OM&M is that we’ll see them again on the other side and be reunited.
Defy has its somber moments, but overall it contains a great deal of head-banging, foot-stomping heavy metal. Even with the departure of Carlile, I believe OM&M is on a good, musical path that is evidenced by their latest work in Defy. If you haven’t heard OM&M before, Defy is a good place to start.
I’m going to give Defy an 86%.