Review Summary: A huge step in the right direction.
When you think of Of Mice & Men, you’ll think of generic metalcore. Though this isn’t always bad, there’s nothing in generic metalcore nowadays that has the ability to provide an atmosphere or an emotion to an experienced listener. There are simply too many motions that the everyday metalcore band follows (onslaught of 4/4 breakdowns, cheap bridges and corny-sounding clean vocal choruses) for there to be any real connection with the listener. This is the summary of where metalcore is today.
On their debut, Of Mice & Men was a metalcore band “going through the motions”. While the band undoubtedly had potential with the well praised Austin Carlile providing unique screams and Shaylee Bourget providing excellent clean vocals along with not-so-excellent guitar riffs; Of Mice & Men still brought nothing new to the table with their self-titled debut. If anything, the album was a fun listen, but nothing that could be taken seriously.
Nearly two years later and you have The Flood; an album people have had their eye on due to the potential shown in their debut. Fans as well as newcomers to the band will be impressed by this, as The Flood completely exceeds the freshman album in every way, shape and form.
The first major thing you will notice when listening to this album is that Of Mice & Men are no longer the run-of-the-mill, basic metalcore band that they were on the debut. They have improved songwriting to the point of creating an atmosphere with their music; something they have never succeeded in before.
The vocals are a huge improvement on this. While Shaylee was highly praised on the debut, fans will be happy to hear that he has stepped up his game on The Flood; and that a lot of the songs are structured more around his singing. In the song Let Live, Shaylee displays the catchy side of his voice wilst fitting the overall dark vibe of the song perfectly. The album closer, When You Sleep At Night, is a nice soft landing after an overall hard-hitting album. The song is sung entirely by Shaylee, and is a perfect example of how well he uses his voice on the album.
Austin Carlile has also improved in the vocal department. While his scream tended to get monotone and repetitive in the debut, Carlile does just enough on The Flood to keep his scream interesting through the entire album. He does this by adding some yells, whispers, and even some clean singing on the song Ben Threw.
Another huge part of what made the debut album lack in originality was the lack of creativity on guitars. On this album, every riff works to create the overall atmospheric and emotional sound that Of Mice & Men is going for. The breakdowns actually fit and contribute to the songs, rather than working as fillers to do nothing but promote unoriginality. In addition, the bass guitar is completely audible, and adds an excellent full sound to the already excellent riffs scattered amongst this album. While the drumming on this album hasn’t improved much, the beats still fit perfectly with everything else going on in the songs.
While no song on The Flood is necessarily bad, a few do tend to drift toward basic, un-atmospheric metalcore. Songs Still YDG’N, Purified, Product of a Murderer, and The Great Hendowski tend to drag a little bit without living up to the greatness of the other songs; and sounding overall like songs that were dragged over from the debut.
All that said, the fact that Of Mice & Men have definitely gone through a growth spurt since their first album. While certain songs fall to the victim of generic metalcore, the majority of the album provides excellent vocals, riffing, and drumming that actually creates good music rather than just a fun listen. In a world of generic metalcore, this is the type of album the genre needs.