Of Mice & Men is a band I’ve had my eyes on for a few years now. After the departure of Austin Carlile the band evolved into a new, heavier direction behind heavy vocalist Aaron Pauley. If 2018’s Defy was an evolution for the band, Earthandsky is almost reinvention, in the best way possible. Available as of September 27, 2019 via Rise Records, this album really turns on the heavy filter and brings an intensity the band has been flirting with for years.
“Earth & Sky” was the single released from this album and gave a glimpse to the direction this album was headed. It is catchy, in the vein and tradition of the band, with a big chorus that is easy to sing along to. There is a very intense group vocal that puts the icing on the cake of a solid outing. “Deciever/Decieved” is a track that is destined for something big. This track has one of the catchiest chorus lines on the record, which is a staple of the band, but the guitar solo and transition to the last chorus absolutely blow me away. This album is not only incredibly heavy but also musically sound and insanely tight.
The opening track, “Gravedancer,” is an amazing introduction to this new sound and is heavy as hell, intense and unrelenting with a light guitar riff that almost reminds me of a traditional Spanish guitar. “As We Suffocate” is more in line with what we have grown to expect from the band, even still on the heavier side. Pauley has been the heavy vocalist of the band for years, but his personal evolution into filling the hole that was left by Carlile’s departure is on full display here. The chorus is in your face with big moments of strong, clean vocals.
“Taste of Regret” is my favorite track on the album. The chorus is huge and catchy with an intensity that does not relent. The bass lines drive it forward with the heavy vocals and range in the spotlight. It’s rare to see a frontman with the vocal range and heavy, distorted ability that are on display here and throughout the album. “Mushroom Cloud” is another fun song, in what may be the heaviest track on a very deep album, the transitions absolutely standout. Between the countdowns in the chorus and the aggressive riffs, this song shines as something special. Another standout track, “The Mountain” is the closest track to what I would expect from the band previously, which as a fan I am not objecting to! The song is a little on the tamer side, with big moments that make it the most likely track to earn crossover appeal.
I am blown away by Earthandsky, and in general by this band. This is a new, substantial layer for a group with some hits and crossover appeal while never shying away from the heavier side. This evolution is a natural and welcomed step for Of Mice & Men and is easily the best album in an already impressive discography.