Review Summary: Lacking identity and heart, Cold World is just as its name implies.
Have you fully sat down and listened to a record that just felt empty and emotionless at its core? As if there was no genuine spirit or life put into the final product? Sure, certain albums embrew clear disdain for some and joy for others. And given constant differing tastes and opinions on what is good or bad, it is clear that music is subjective by nature. But that aside, an artist's delivery is key and if the musicians in question don’t seem to take much care into the work they do, the pieces they create can come off as meaningless. Of Mice and Men’s senior album Cold World
seems to embody just that: Meaninglessness.
Directionless and flaccid. Those are ways to best describe the conglomeration of tracks on this project, from beginning to end. From the grossly toned and trivial bass-line that opens the album on the track “Game of War”, to the closing low tuned guitar note on the final track “Transfigured” Cold World
lacks any passionate delivery from every facet of it’s music. As many of the songs on their last record Restoring Force
alluded to, Of Mice and Men have headed in a softer and more traditional Nu-Metal direction on this album. While their new venture into this genre could have been done well, it instead lacks any originality or unique traits to speak of.
No noticeable performance, polish or care is put into any of Cold World’s
sound. All of the guitars emit a feeling of deja vu, emulating the popping, boggy low-tuned ‘bounce-riffs’ that have been prominent in many Nu-Metal and metalcore acts in the last two decades. The drum work is simplistic and never takes charge in the mix and the band's usage of electronic tools are complacent and add no substance to the other instrumentals.
On top of this, the band’s frontman and singer/screamer Austin Carlile has adopted a new vocal style here that lacks any sincerity or emotion in the way it’s presented. Instead of coming full-force with his established high-pitched, throat shredding screams, he often opts to showcase this strange, new hybrid of singing, screaming and growling that doesn’t fill the gap left from the absence of his established norm. He also tries to develop a new role as the band’s singer on Cold World
and that decision is questionable considering how subpar his singing is, especially in comparison to the band’s other vocalist, Aaron Pauley. The constant vocal trading and harmonizing between the two on certain tracks like “Transfigured” or “Like a Ghost” doesn’t work as well as the band intends and this ends up leaving the core of their new direction as being a failed experiment.
A good number of the songs are difficult to distinguish from one another and it can be hard to name a highlight during the entire hour-long project. Songs like “Contagious,” “Relentless,” The Hunger” and “Away” show the band's attempt at trying to capture the sound of many other prominent Metal and Nu-Metal acts such as Korn, Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin and Tool and the result is them losing the identity they once had as Of Mice and Men. On the contrary, the song “The Lie” is the last hint of the band holding on to their Metalcore sound. It’s also the only track that plays to the strength of their new direction, mixing both their old and new sound together in an eclectic fashion.
If there’s any way to summarize the album as a whole, it’s the vapid and meaningless instrumental track “-.” The track has no identity, it has no reason to be on the record and it feels like it was placed in with little effort. That’s Cold World in a nutshell: Generic, complacent Nu-metal that lacks any key identifying sound or notable characteristics. Of Mice and Men seem to be running on autopilot on this record and the end result shows. Cold World
has no heart, no soul and is as lifeless as it’s name implies.