Many were left wanting more after Of Mice & Men released Cold World back in 2016, and album that would become Austin Carlile's last bout with the band before Marfan syndrome would force him to leave. Perhaps with less worry and more room to work, Of Mice & Men explode with new energy in Defy as Aaron Pauley takes over vocal duty and the rest of the band seems revitalized.
There's something in Defy that really makes it pop instantly, a quality that Cold World did not have. On the last record, Of Mice & Men bordered on pure alternative rock. While maintaining some of the elements from the genre, the band are now easing back into the heavier side of their catalogue, something shown immediately with opening track 'Defy.' The intro is epic and heavy, the rest of the song massive and evil at its core. Pauley really shows off his cords, singing powerfully and screaming with rage otherwise. 'Instincts' follows through with wild and frantic guitars and immense choruses. The guitars really command attention throughout the record, seen in 'Unbreakable' and 'Warzone.'
Of Mice & Men definitely have a new breath of life in them. Perhaps the best metaphor for it is their cover of Pink Floyd's 'Money,' a very interesting take on the song that is both different but recognizable - exactly the way Of Mice & Men present themselves throughout the record. 'Back To Me' channels the band's more alternative side, while still maintaining intensity of the rest of the record. Pauley's vocals really bring the band's whole sound up a notch; there's a beautiful back and forth of screams and falsetto in 'Sunflower' that really shows off his best. The band take things down to close out the record, bringing things to a close on a sweet note with 'If I Were Ghosts,' but not before they return to their YDG series with the third song of the group, 'Forever YDG'n,' showing that they're still the same band.
Of Mice & Men explode with new energy in Defy, building massive songs while maintaining the best of their newer sounds. Even after losing Carlile, Of Mice & Men are powerfully moving ahead free of worry and any pain holding them back. It's a new era for them, and they've never sounded better.
Favorite Tracks: Sunflower, Instincts, Defy
Least Favorite Track: On The Inside
Rating: 78 / 100
Stream or buy Defy on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist: