Of Mice & Men have been through quite a bit since the release of their self-titled debut in 2010. Austin Carlile had heart surgery and was forced to sit out The Emptiness Tour, which eventually led to Jerry Roush becoming a permanent addition due to a conflict between the band and Austin. After only 9 months, Jerry was ousted from the band in favor of Austin rejoining. In late January, they went back to Joey Sturgis (who produced their debut) for The Flood.
The difference between these two albums is quite vast. Although the first album was really good, a proper comparison can’t be made here. Austin felt like he was really pushing his vocal talent to the edge, and sounded a little forced out. On The Flood, it seems to just come out naturally. The clean vocals of Shayley Bourget have also stepped up and hold a more prominent role than before. The bass guitar brings the heaviness to the ears and plays off of the guitars by giving them more depth and room to play. The guitars have more diversity. I felt that they played a lot of the same riffs in the first album and they blended together, keeping each track from standing apart.
You can read my thoughts on the song “Still YDG’n” here: http://mindequalsblown.net/2011/05/thoughts-on-new-of-mice-men-song-still-ydgn/
There is a lot more ferocity here, as evidenced in “Ben Threw” and “Ohioisonfire.” “Ben Threw” is a really heavy track that the kids can throw down some moves with. From what I understand, this is the only track that Austin does clean vocals on as well. It begins with a bass-heavy, slower tempo track before heading into faster territory and really tearing it up. Austin’s voice has gotten a touch deeper as well. The complexity of the music is a definite step up. You can listen to both albums to get an idea of what I’m talking about.
“Letting You Go” is a track that covers a lot of different genres. With the clean singing over soft guitars and cymbal tapping, to the awesome breakdowns that are throughout the entire song, this track has it all. The bridge between the really soft sections to the heavy stuff is well put together as well. I would have been happy with this track even if it was a short one ending at the 2:04 mark, but they keep it going and don’t disappoint. At the 3:20 mark, it goes into ambient areas not previously explored, before heading back into the well-sung chorus.
“Ohioisonfire” is my favorite track so far on the album. It has the most attitude and exhibits each member of the band equally. With the bass-driven intro going into metalcore breakdowns, nothing is generic here. This is also one of the fastest songs on the record. I hope they play this song live when I go to see them at Warped Tour this year!
One of the only gripes I have is not being able to listen to the CD-only bonus track “When You Can’t Sleep At Night,” but that’s only a minor inconvenience. Other than that, this is the sound of what was thought to be just another post-hardcore band maturing beyond their roots and making a name for themselves. I already cannot wait to hear what their next album will bring to the table.