Review Summary: Of Mice & Men decide to raise themselves above the post hardcore crowd the old fashion way-by releasing an enjoyable album that is MAJOR improvement on their previous album.
I wish every band could write and produce a record in one year and have it sound this outstanding. Unlike most Rise Record bands, Of Mice & Men didn’t spend their off time blowing up their vocals on tours, or creating an even worse album than the previous one. On the contrary, everything has been overhauled-for the better.
From the get go you can notice the difference. The riffs actually vary from song to song, the bass is audible (and extraordinary for that matter!), Austin’s screaming is even better and he actually sings (Ben Threw), and they have added a couple slower acoustic songs to the mix. Oh, and how I could I forget the breakdowns? There are breakdowns, but they don’t force you to play a game of “how long can I go before hitting the ‘Next’ button.” They are also very well placed and are used to enhance the song rather than to bore you half to death. It seems to be quite a puzzling concept to most bands of this genre, but breakdowns don’t need to be every 30 seconds.
And before you get bummed about slow songs on a post hardcore album, listen to them. Shayley’s voice is nothing short of amazing and they are actually some of the most enjoyable songs on the whole album. The only thing that I find lacking is the drums, which seem to follow the guitar rather than vice versa. And while a couple songs may get old after a while, every song is unique its own way. Overall, The Flood an extremely positive release avidly portraying that this band is actually serious about writing good music. But really, what isn’t there to like? Austin Carlile is the vocalist.
Ah, The Trees. The song makes me think of the Kurt Vonnegut short story "Harrison Bergeron", which presents a world where absolutely social equality is enforced by crippling those with special abilities so they are at the same level as the lowest common denominator. It's essentially a clever retelling of the "tall poppy syndrome", where people want to cut people with more money, talent, better looks, or whatever, down to size. I'm not sure if at the end the maples have arranged to have the oaks literally cut down to size, or if the maples' agitations have led to the whole forest being clear cut, but either way it's a clever jibe at those who nurse resentments and want to bring down those above them in some way.
Ah, The Fountain of Lamneth. The idea that this song is about a person's life cycle is interesting. Still, anyone with familiarity with LSD will attest that this song has a psychedelic interpretation. "(eyes) are open very wide" refers to the large pupils of an LSD taker. The "no one at the bridge" part tells of the horrors of a bad trip. "Panacea" relates the blessing of a good trip. "Have I left my life behind" refers to the feeling during a trip that the tripper has "died" and been resurrected. The beginning and end parts pertain to the "I AM THAT I AM" god-definition of "yahweh", a solipsistic experience of godhood that psychedelic-takers and religious mystics have. There is zero chance that this song has no psychedelic connotations.
A classic album in its own right, but many forget just how wonderful side B truly is. Take the song Tears for example. Tears is about someone who has had enormous emotional/existential struggles ("all of the seasons, all of the days..." for what seems like their whole life ("a lifetime of questions"), has always sought genuine understanding and empathy ("eyes that know why"), but has never found it. They feel totally alone in the world.
What I can't figure out is, when they see that the other person has cried for them, do they realize that that person truly understands what they're going through? The ending "I tasted the answers / and my body was weak / for you / the truth" seems to indicate that; but the part about "what would touch me deeper ... eyes that only cry ... or eyes that know why" might mean that they don't feel genuinely understood by the other person.
On a more intuitive level, this song made me imagine a grievous, emotionally draining relationship between two people. Perhaps they are so attached that it causes them great pain, or they desperately need each other but often wind up fighting. But in the pain they find great meaning; it proves how significant their relationship is. In the music you can hear the weakness the singer feels after being consumed by years of pain. I think it's beautiful how the music captures that feeling so poignantly.