Review Summary: A Return to Form, Pt. I
With the first installation in the trilogy of 2021 EP’s for Of Mice & Men, Timeless
showcases the band harkening back to the classic metalcore days with soaring guitar leads, chugging breakdowns, and beautifully melodic choruses. Continuing with the momentum of their previous record, EARTHANDSKY
, this EP displays the same duality of aggression and lofty harmony, exemplified through Aaron Pauley’s alternation of harsh screaming and melodious clean singing blended with the combination riffage and atmospheric lead-work from Phil Manansala and Alan Ashby.
, Of Mice & Men experiment with the mix of the beautiful choruses, aggressive verses, and impactful breakdowns. The title track provides the best example of this, combining the chugged intro riff with the classic metalcore tropes of the guitar work in the verses while allowing Aaron Pauley to vocally soar across the full, powerful chorus. In a similar manner, “Obsolete” fluidly embeds the palm-muted guitars with the harmonious, atmospheric guitar leads while managing to construct an energetic chorus that hits hard. However, although the band relies on the past success of their previous formula, this doesn’t mean they have abandoned experimentation as a whole. With the final track, ‘Anchor’, Of Mice & Men pushes into the realm of groove-influenced writing, producing a bouncy riff that deviates slightly from the metalcore songwriting of the previous two tracks. Moreover, the verses integrate an almost industrial feel, incorporating ambient work, electronic drums, and heavy reliance on bass, providing an invigorating sound to their style. Likewise, both “Timeless” and “Obsolete” attempt to expand upon the atmospheric sounds, creating interestingly melodic breakdowns and incorporating clean sections into the tracks to provide dynamic to their work.
Much of the success in this experimentation can be attributed to the pure chemistry among the band. Timeless
shows the band at their most functional and talented, each member contributing immensely to the final product of the EP. In the vocal department, Aaron Pauley is at his most dynamic yet, fusing together soaring melodies with abrasive screams in a way that fluidly flows throughout the project. Along with his impressive vocal performance, his grooves behind the bass provide an essential backbone to the songs, emphasizing the power of the riffs while also highlighting some solo basslines in the verses of “Anchor”. Complementing Pauley’s bass, Manansala and Ashby’s guitar work leads the charge in constructing hammering riffs that utilize both palm-muted chugs and speedy single-note riffage while also implementing lofty, atmospheric leads that amplify the power in the songwriting. Encompassing both the aggression and melody of the instrumentation, Valentino Arteaga’s drumming drives and progresses each song effectively, providing the perfect balance of energy and groove that elevates ‘Timeless’.
With two more EP’s and a full-length to come in the near future, Of Mice & Men have established a solid foundation to build upon, providing fans with the perfect balance of melody and aggression desired from their recent efforts while also integrating innovation into their style. Although only three songs in length, Timeless
encapsulates an immense amount of intensity and power within its short duration. Even despite its tendencies to fall into the cliché metalcore tropes of the past, Of Mice & Men manage to pull off the style in a manner that is both engaging and entertaining.