aec.rise35002.2 1/19/18 New
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    Defy Rise Records

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Review Text True to its title, Of Mice & Men's fifth album defies the odds after the loss of frontman Austin Carlile, who was finally sidelined in late 2016 after years of health woes. In his place is clean vocalist and bassist Aaron Pauley, who assumes the responsibility of both screaming and singing on Defy. After Carlile's departure and 2016's rather limp Cold World, the big question was whether the band could continue in a manner befitting the brand and its fans. On Defy, while they prove that it's not only possible to persist but also thrive, the simple answer is that this is no longer Carlile's OM&M. Nor should it be. The Pauley-led incarnation of OM&M hits just as hard. In some ways, Pauley's vocals are more welcome; depending on his role in each song, he's not only a better singer than Carlile, but also a devastating screamer. Naturally, the band has something to prove on Defy and that defiance is empowering. The opening title track is triumphant, cracking open the sky before "Instincts" whips up a torrent of swirling guitars and pummeling drums with Pantera-like levels of might and fury. Pauley holds his own with blood-curdling bellows and soaring clean vocals, which help carry Defy to the very end. "Back to Me," "Unbreakable," and the swaggering Pink Floyd cover "Money" display an energy and vigor that had long been absent from the OM&M catalog. On less furious moments like "Vertigo" and "If We Were Ghosts," the band plays with atmospherics and Pauley adopts his best Maynard James Keenan for a pair of tracks that sound quite similar to A Perfect Circle. In the same vein, the unexpectedly melodic "Sunflower" is an evolution for the band, a beautifully soaring highlight. Undoubtedly, Defy may split fans down the Carlile-loyalty line. However, the album warrants attention for its melody, power, and pure catchiness. Here, the band are not diminished, they've actually received a new and satisfying lease on life. ~ Neil Z. Yeung

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Defy - 4:41
  2. 2. Instincts - 4:20
  3. 3. Back to Me - 3:15
  4. 4. Sunflower - 4:40
  5. 5. Unbreakable - 4:04
  6. 6. Vertigo - 4:14
  7. 7. Money - 4:55
  8. 8. How Will You Live - 4:41
  9. 9. On the Inside - 3:14
  10. 10. Warzone - 3:13
  11. 11. Forever YDG'n - 4:55
  12. 12. If We Were Ghosts - 4:12

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