‘Of Mice & Men’ destined for greatness

Charlie Steen

With just about every band in the post-hardcore/emotional hardcore scene sounding almost exactly the same these days, it is rare to come across an album or band with an original sound or, at the very least, something unique to add to what has become a very predictable and clichéd genre.  Of Mice and Men’s debut record doesn’t completely break free of the predictable sound that every emotional hardcore band creates, but they have moments that hint at a bright future of something special.

While the album does follow the very formulaic song structures that has been laid down before their existence (scream, catchy chorus, breakdown, repeat), it is evident in a few songs that they are attempting to create something original, but not as out there, thankfully, as front man Austin Carlile’s original band Attack Attack! who poorly mixed hardcore and techno dance sounds, starting a trend of awful music.

“Seven Thousand Miles for What” stands out as the strongest and most original song on the album.  The song starts with Carlile screaming out what are easily the most honest lyrics found on the album (it seems like they could be about his departure from Attack Attack!). The song then takes on an unexpected  turn and breaks into a full on southern metal attack that one would only expect to hear in the company of Maylene and the Sons of Disaster and is without question the best riffing to be found here. The song works its way through a strong chorus and is followed with what is the best breakdown on the album. From there, the band works up to the highlight of the album where every member works flawlessly together creating, for lack of a better term, a super-chorus.  Carlile and fellow band member Jaxin Hall sing and scream together in unison over driving guitars and bass, and a piano line leads it all with  drummer Valentino Arteaga rounding out the sound with an incredible display of drumming.  It is at this moment where I believe that this band could be the biggest band in their genre in a few years.

“Second and Seabring” could very well be the biggest crowd- pleaser and sing-a-long at a live show with Carlile’s almost too catchy tribute to his mother.  The lyrics are about Carlile thanking his mom for everything that she has done for him as he has pursued his dreams. Although the first three-quarters of the song is one of the heaviest on the album, the song closes with Hall singing: “This is not what it is, only baby scars / I need your love like a boy needs his mother’s side” over an incredibly calming piano piece and is one of the most memorable moments on the record.

Despite having a  few very strong songs, the album as a whole is nothing that you haven’t heard before.  A few of the songs contain the generic breakdown that consists of long pauses and one or two open palm mutes on the D-string as well as a few choruses x that feel a bit forced. That being said, if you enjoy this style of music, you will enjoy this album as it soars above almost every other release in the genre for the past year.  There isn’t a single song that bogs down Of Mice and Men’s debut release, which is very impressive considering the band hasn’t even been playing together for a full year yet.

Of Mice and Men, despite being a young band, have created a record with the quality that has taken most of the veteran bands in the genre a plethora of mediocre records to achieve, and that almost all new bands strive for and fall short.  This band has the potential to re-create the formulaic and predictable sound that has become the emotional hardcore genre, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what they have to offer in the future.  This is a very good debut album, and Of Mice and Men has the potential for perfection if given a few more years to write and play music together.