Review Summary: Of Mice & Men’s sophomore effort is a step sideways from their debut.
I’ll be honest here: I didn’t make it through this band’s debut. I had intended to pan it, but I didn’t want to try to listen to it again. Of Mice & Men has not stepped up the quality at all on The Flood, regardless of the average rating here.
Regardless, I’m reviewing the album, not sputnik’s tastes. The first thing that blasts through your speakers is actually enjoyable, being a semi-catchy, almost groovy guitar riff. And then Austin Carlile, everyone’s favorite ex-Attack Attack! member starts screaming. His scream is powerful, yes, but it doesn’t vary whatsoever. And, very abruptly, the guitars have switched to chugging. And then a clean chorus that sounds like Carlile’s former band, followed by a verse, and then chorus, then breakdown.
And this happens on about every song. A genuinely listenable riff, and then Carlile’s monotonous screaming with the guitars switching to chug mode, and a chorus, and maybe a breakdown. The tired verse/chorus structure never really changes. The only real difference between songs is the placement of the breakdown.
I’ve got to hand it to Austin Carlile: He really know how to dash your hopes into the ground. I don’t try to be negative. In fact, when I heard the intro riff, I was genuinely intrigued... and then Mr. Carlile started ripping up his throat in my ear. Although even that’s an exaggeration. I liked his scream for about half of O.G. Loko, before it sounded exactly the same as every other Sturgis-core screamer. Yes, Mr. Joseph Sturgis produced this record. I could take a few jabs at him, but then I’d be putting more effort into this review than he does for the bands he produces.
Although, while I’m on the subject, every Sturgis band has the exact same drum tone. That’s part of the reason it all sounds the same (the rest being that it is
the same). And while I can occasionally hear the bass, the appearances are none too frequent and not at all different from the guitars. There are a few guitar lines that are being played under vocals that aren’t chugging or the song’s intro riff; and they sound like every other metalcore band in this era.
One thing this album does better than the debut is draw you in. I’ve touched on this, every song has a truly interesting intro, and perhaps if you hadn’t heard Sturgis-core screams before, you’d enjoy a song or two. Although that’s as far as it would go. After that point you’d realize that their song structure was boring, old, and entirely uninspired. You’d notice the fact that Austin doesn’t scream with any feeling whatsoever. You’d notice the band’s talent for ruining perfectly good riffs. You’d notice exactly how heavy the autotune is layered on in songs like ohioisonfire.
The album’s biggest weakness is easily the homogeneous nature of it. When everything sounds exactly the same, nothing is memorable after even a minute or so of cleansing your mind from the abomination you just heard with something else. And while the choruses may be catchy, Of Mice & Men falls into the trap of not
repeating their choruses ad nauseum, and therefore having entirely forgettable choruses. Sure, repetition of choruses is bad. But being entirely unmemorable is arguably worse.