Back to Me
How Will You Live
On the Inside
If We Were Ghosts
Get ready to be bewildered, thrashed and thoroughly throttled as this unbelievable album blows the cobwebs from every corner of your existence and has you screaming in delight with hellfire and angst blasting from every orifice.
Think that’s overdoing it? Yeah! Wait ‘till you hear it.
I think is fair to suggest that the pressure was on in earnest for Of Mice & Men following the departure of Austin Carlile last year and the band would have been cognisant of the long faces and broken hearts amongst the fan faithful, when tours were cancelled and many suspected this would be the end. But in ferocious form, the band were not about to lay down defeated, obviously aware that the beast that is the mighty Of Mice And Men Sound was now its own entity and could not be silenced.
Right from the opening title track the listener is assured that there is no deviation from their remarkable signature sound, but by the time Instincts has reached finale, you are left breathless in bewildered awe. How? How is this possible at all? Aaron has taken to the mic like a bear to the woods, doing therein what bears do. Or put it a little more directly…natural, impressive and powerful and the man has managed to inject his sense of rhythm into his vocal delivery, to perfection.
But the true beauty of this collection is an almighty achievement, within an achievement, namely one member short, yet staying true to the sound, creating a phenomenal album in the face of adversity, and still managing to pull off an incredibly diverse record, proving that, if I may quote Mr Robert Burns himself, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”, but sheer determination, effort of will along with a consciousness of what can be achieved, a realisation is made manifest through pure desire. And what a realisation this album is. Melodic, powerful and almighty. This collection is hit after hit, high point after high point and Vertigo appears at the most apt time in sequencing genius, because you realise there is only mountain peaks within this album and not a valley in sight. We are soaring so high that vertigo could be an appropriate warning on the label.
The band put their own spin on Pink Floyd’s Money, beefing up the pace from original, composed in mainly 7/8 time, and providing an instrumental punch that could not be previously envisaged. Except, of course, by the living, breathing, fire eating, venom spitting Of Mice And Men. Just ferocious. I suspect Roger himself might offer an impressed exclamation of ‘fuck yeah’!
How Will You Live is, like each track before, perfectly sequenced and resulting in Money as being a mid-album ‘breather’ for contemplation and raw enjoyment, before we are offered a harmonic open hand to re-join the OMAM journey.
Just like ‘water from a stone’, On The Inside heralds the message that the band just keep finding more and more brilliance and if Valentino at the kit doesn’t get your hair raised already, the very thought of this track performed live will have you panting in eager anticipation.
Warzone ups the ante in every possible way, but what would you expect from a title like that than a barrage of full metalcore jacketed warheads, inbound and hot. Damn, you can see the circle pits forming already. At midpoint the band introduce the concept of harmony and a possibility of peace, but as negotiations break down and the tensions build, the inevitability of war arrives back at the fore.
Forever YDG’n could never have been more appropriate. You’ll get it.
If We Were Ghosts is the perfect finale to this sensational collection. Soulful and sensational musically, lyrically and vocally superb, and the subject matter…I’ll leave that all to you, your thoughts, your tears, your hope, your pain, your longing.
Fans need to have not shredded a single tear with contemplation of the Of Mice & Men end of days. The odds stacking firmly against this powerful force was as futile an act of defiance as flipping the bird at an attacking shark. To think that circumstance and ill fate would hamper the best laid plans of mice and men, and destiny or doom would bring about a halt to Of Mice & Men. The cornered mouse becomes a raging bull and Defy is the result.
Some of those who enabled the drawing of such a glorious phoenix from the ashes of potential destruction were Howard Benson (producer), Mike Polotnikoff (Engineered and co-produced), Ted Jensen (Mastered), Chris Lord (Alge mixing) and of course, Of Mice And Men.