Two years ago, when Austin Carlile had to leave Of Mice & Men for health reasons, I and many others speculated if this would have been the end of an amazing band.

A frontman often is the soul of a band, and replacing them… well it just never feels right. I assure you that this is not the case with ‘Defy’. This album is a work of art, and lands in a music era where Metalcore has seen a steep decline in record releases. The real question here though is, with a new vocalist and a diminishing list of peers, will Of Mice & Men promote the genre with this record, or find a limited audience?

The record opens with a tone setting title track in ‘Defy’; This I feel is a song made especially for fans and critics like myself, who didn’t think we’d ever see a record as good as 2014’s ‘Restoring Force’. Aaron Pauley stepped up to the plate to deliver some really well driven unclean vocals, as well as continuing to manage clean vocals. ‘Defy’ has taken me a few weeks to fully appreciate and come to enjoy.

2016’s ‘Cold World’ really took the band in a new direction, the lyrics had so much sustenance and deep meaning, this record is for the most part face value. That isn’t to undercut the talent in this band, because talent is something they are not short on. I feel like OM&M really took this record as an opportunity to reach their fan base, and assure us that Of Mice & Men was going to be different, but also the same. They didn’t continue deeper down the path ‘Cold World’ was taking them. They went back to their fundamentals, and Aaron is learning how to manage both unclean and clean vocals. I can certainly appreciate that, and fully respect them, but I most definitely do expect more from this band on record six.

My personal favorite tracks: This is a three way toss up. OM&M covering ‘Money’ feels so damned right, right time, right band, and right tone. The track is modernized with perfection. ‘How Will You Live’ is another amazing track, this song alone really gives me hope for the future for OM&M; the vocal shifts between clean and unclean are almost flawless. Finally, ‘If We Were Ghosts’ is an absolutely beautiful track; music, lyrics, and emotion are a genuine homage to their long time friend and tour mate, Chester Bennington.

All in all, my rating is a 4/5. I will again say, I am lenient on this score, for this record. If Austin Carlile was still fronting unclean vocals I would probably reduce the score to a 3.5/5. The record definitely has replay ability and will likely end up being one of the top 50 for heavier records this year. Money may find its way to my top 5 heavy covers for the year. Give the record a chance. I look forward to seeing Of Mice & Men perform this record live later this year.


Stay Classy,

Old Gregg

(Review by Gregg French)