Whilst most of their contemporaries have shifted towards the more melodic side of metalcore, Of Mice & Men‘s sixth release, ‘Earth And Sky’ latches on to more technical influences and a dizzying pace to cement their standing.
Opening tentatively and divulging into a sprawling wall of distortion, ‘Gravedancer’ kicks things off in Of Mice & Men typical fashion. With an added bite and the inclusion of a dilruba and its accompanying phrasing, the track not only indicates the overall tone of the record, but also boasts thick riffs courtesy of guitarists Alan Ashby and Phil Manansala.
With his second release as the frontman for the group, Aaron Pauley delivers versatility across the record, with the strong and soaring clean vocals shown on ‘The Taste Of Regret’ or the unhinged low growls that dominate ‘Mushroom Cloud’.
After the off-kilter melodies and unbridled aggression of its successor, ‘Pieces’ leans towards a more mid-tempo, yet still retains a driving pulse, due to Valentino Arteaga‘s pounding drum beats. With a wide chorus and thunderous bridge that hooks into an emotive and spiralling solo, the track ends the first half of the record on a strong note.
Cementing the current stylistic chapter of their career, ‘Deceiver/Deceived’ not only gallops through a thrash-tinged main riff, but also showcases the strength of Pauley‘s powerful clean vocals. Strong and melodic, the track rarely uses screamed vocals yet still maintains an impact, creating a fresh tone for record.
Stretching their soundscape on ‘Earth And Sky’, the group move between progressive guitar exploration and crushing heaviness before merging ethereal synths with guttural growls. After last year’s ‘Defy’ seeing the band working as a quartet for the first time, the title-track displays a comfort and ambition within the group.
After the nu-metal flirting and hook heavy ‘Meltdown’, the group jump between stomping riffs and swirling melodies to craft a late addition highlight to the record. As the track moves towards its snaking bridge, the evolving sounds of the record become evident.
With a determined mindset, Of Mice & Men may have proved on ‘Defy’ that they can continue as a quartet, but with ‘Earth And Sky’, the group display the ability to lead the next wave of metalcore.