If you love the brutality of Of Mice & Men’s original material – I’m thinking epic tracks like Ben Threw on The Flood – then this may not be for you, but the Orange County five-piece’s fourth album Cold World showcases a band maturing in their musical offering.
Cold World is largely an enjoyable rock / metalcore record that will appeal to the millions of new metal fans out there, thanks to the likes of Bring Me The Horizon. There’s moments of the old OM&M we know and love, with Austin Carlile’s trademark screaming vocals and big, loud guitar riffs – but there’s a lingering feeling that this could have been so much better.
The album gets off to an uncharacteristically, almost bizarrely slow start with opening track Game of War. Carlile’s vocals lament over a building, almost ominous backing track, before threatening to burst into life as a military-style drum loop suggests more is to come – but never delivers on that promise.
But soon enough the heavy sound that we’ve traditionally associated OM&M with is back in full force with the powerful The Lie. Trademark shouted verses are interwoven with melodic choruses and heavy guitar riffs – all of which follow a rather odd electronic / synthy intro.
The excellent Real, which sounds more like what you expect to hear from OM&M, lulled me into thinking we were on for something special. Slow, lingering, almost brooding verses burst into life with heavy guitar riffs and screamy vocals, which is exactly what we also get in the form of slow-builder Like A Ghost, on which the driving guitar riffs are simple but enjoyably effective.
In the week that two of metal’s elder statesmen revealed they’ll be touring the UK in December, it seems almost apt to have a nu-metal throwback in the form of Contagious. It opens up sounding distinctly Limp Bizkity and the disjointed guitar riffs and heavy bass echo of classic Korn, which is certainly far from a criticism.
Two weird instrumental racks called – and + are pointless and we’ll ignore them, but what we won’t avoid is Pain. It’s heavy and loud and it’ll pack a punch in gigs, although the repetitive riffs get a bit annoying. The funky high pitched ‘sireny’ noise that opens up, returns in the chorus and in a moment of quiet interlude, adds something a bit different and serves to add to the chaos.
But this is where I feel myself becoming a bit disinterested. The Hunger offers nothing noteworthy, Relentless features some cool, rocky riffs but generally sounds like a B-side you’d expect to hear from Linkin Park or Sum 41 back in the day, and Down The Road is basically a soft rock ballad.
My overarching feeling is that Of Mice & Men have left something in the locker with Cold World. The opening track isn’t an opening track, it sounds like a throwaway song you stick at the end of an album to showcase how diverse your skillset is. While after Contagious, it all just seems to fade away and I find it a struggle to listen through to the end of the last few tracks.
Having said that, there is still plenty here to get excited about. There’s a few good tracks that will add to the band’s already superb live sets and they’ll be well worth going to check out in person when they’re in the UK in the next few weeks – alongside Crown The Empire and Hands Like Houses.
But my advice would be to listen to a handful of the aforementioned standout songs, then and go and listen to Ben Threw.