With frontman Austin Carlisle forced to leave at the end of 2016 due to ongoing health issues, it appeared to be the end for California metal-core band Of Mice and Men. But the remaining members defied all odds, and former bassist Aaron Pauley stepped up to take the leading role. Defy shows they are more than capable as a quartet.
The titular track ‘Defy’ is a fantastic start to the album, aptly showcasing their desire to defy hopelessness. Straight into unclean vocals, it exhibits Pauley’s vocal skills, to put any doubts about his ability as a frontman to rest. Moving onto ‘Instincts’, the riffs are heavy, catchy and addictive. The guitar solo here is a pleasant surprise too, as it isn’t something that OM&M do often.
OM&M provide plenty of stylistic diversity on Defy. ‘Back to Me’ displays a more melodic side of OM&M, with an infectious chorus and catchy beats. ‘Sunflower’ provides a direct contrast to ‘Back to Me’, with heavy vocals and an aggressive beat, it is ideal for head-banging. ‘Vertigo’ provides more melodic respite from otherwise heavy tunes – with inspirational lyrics, it has potential to be another single. OM&M’s cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ is another departure from their usual sound, yet the riffs are timeless, and they have mastered the art of placing one’s own spin on a classic. ‘How Will You Live’ flawlessly combines clean and unclean vocals, resulting in an excellent showcase of Pauley’s vocal skills.
A song about a panic attack, the disjointed nature of ‘Warzone’ perfectly encapsulates the subject. The music almost feels unsettled and uncomfortable, underscoring the song’s lyrics. The intensity of ‘Forever YDG’n’ contrasts well with the final track ‘If We Were Ghosts’, an acoustic masterpiece displaying their lyrical and musical talents.
With Defy, OM&M successfully debut as a quartet, coming back with thoughtful lyricism, and the heavy riffs we have all come to love. With a lyrical focus on self-exploration and the endless challenges of modern life, an album we can all relate to has been released.