Breaking News: Of Mice and Men Release New Single and Perform Live For the First Time Since Austin Carlile’s Departure

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In case you missed it, in the last few days of 2016 iconic frontman, Austin Carlile, of the successful metalcore act, Of Mice & Men, departed the group due to ongoing medical concerns that prevented him from being a full time member of the band.  The shocking news that the beloved singer would be leaving behind the group he started quickly spread across the metalcore community.  We covered the story here at Erik’s Album Reviews, and if you haven’t had a chance to read our post about it, you can do so now!

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2017/01/01/breaking-news-austin-carlile-leaves-of-mice-and-men/

Shortly after this departure of Carlile, the band was bombarded with questions about how they would continue, and if they would at all.  For those who don’t remember, there was a short period in time, between 2010 and 2011, when Austin Carlile was also not apart of the group and Jerry Roush (Sky Eats Airplane and Glass Cloud) was the main vocalist of the band.  This Roush fronted OM&M only released one cover track of “Blame It”, originally recorded by Jamie Foxx, however it still stood as proof that the group can continue their successes without Carlile as a member of the band.

So, because of this, Of Mice & Men announced early this year that they would continue on as a band and still proceed to write new music.  What is most interesting, however, is that the group decided not to hire a new vocalist and instead promote Aaron Pauley, who previously played bass and sung “clean” vocals for the band, to the frontman, who would perform all vocals while playing bass.  This conversion to a four piece was very interesting to say the least, and despite not following the band as attentively as I used to years ago, I was extremely intrigued to see how the band would do with this new structure.

After a long wait, on April 23rd, with the help of Rise Records, Of Mice & Men released their latest single, “Unbreakable”, featuring the new setup to their lineup.  To be completely honest, this is the first Of Mice & Men track I’ve thoroughly enjoyed in years.  It sounds a lot like the material heard on “Restoring Force”, yet there is a slightly more aggressive and heavier influence heard in this track that was absent, for the most part, on the more recent material.  I’m also shocked at how well Pauley has been handling the harsh vocals for Of Mice & Men on this track.  Not only is his delivery similar to that of Austin Carlile, but I wasn’t even aware that he was capable of this performance, as his harsh vocals for his previous band, Jamie’s Elsewhere, aren’t exactly proficient to say the least.  The lyricism definitely is not stunning, but I can’t remember a time in Of Mice & Men’s history where their lyricism was stellar, so this aspect really does not hurt the band at all.

After hearing the new track I was pleasantly surprised, however, the question of would their live performance live up to such high standards was something I was dying to find an answer to.  Of Mice & Men have been known to put on intense shows that not only are entertaining, but feature a lot of movement and fan interaction, especially since Carlile, who was just a vocalist, was able to move freely across the stage/venue and was absolutely worshipped by fans, allowing his performance to be flawless through the eyes of Of Mice & Men fans.  Because of this, I was uncertain as to how the band would be able to maintain this level of adrenaline and excitement at their shows.  Luckily, one of Of Mice & Men’s first performances without Austin Carlile took place, on April 22nd, the day before the “Unbreakable” music video was released and live footage from fans almost instantly emerged on Youtube.  One of the first Carlile-less appearances from the band occurred at the outdoor festival, Las Rageous, which as you can imagine, takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The two tracks I saw performed live, through these live videos, were “Bones Exposed” and “The Depths”, which are two high energy, fan favorite songs that would serve as good examples as to whether or not the band can still be entertaining live.  After watching both videos, even though there was clearly a lack of movement and fan interaction, I can conclude that the performance, especially when evaluating Aaron Pauley and Alan Ashby’s vocal deliveries, was nearly perfect and the intensity and high energy aspects of Of Mice and Men’s live performance were still very prominent, despite not having a vocalist who is free to move around.  Unfortunately, the Las Rageous crowd was pretty dull, but the band themselves were very entertaining.

The new single, “Unbreakable”, and both live videos I watched are attached below.  Check them out and let us know what you think of them and this new era of Of Mice & Men.  We’ll keep you up to date on any updates about OM&M, so stay tuned for more metalcore content and other extreme music content due out very soon!

 

“Unbreakable”:

“Bones Exposed (live)”:

“The Depths (live)”:

500 Word Review: Mastodon “Emperor of Sand”

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When “Once More ‘Round the Sun” dropped, I was still in shallow denial of Mastodon’s new direction. But after the release of “Sultan’s Curse”, I had to cast aside all delusions of bearing witness to the return of their unstoppable sludge. Those days are long gone, and it’s impossible not to hold them over what Mastodon has become.

Mastodon took nearly 3 years to put out this album since their previous release. During that time, the band was dealing with family issues, a problem that has never stopped them before. Instead they took a lousy situation and turned it into musical inspiration again. Despite that, my first impression of “Emperor of Sand” was that it felt rushed. More specifically, it sounds like the band barreled through the writing process and rushed on to recording and production. It has some telltale qualities of an album put out to satisfy the requirements of a record deal. There is filler at every turn. They kill time with uninspired guitar solos lacking class and containing too many pinch harmonics, reminiscent of the ostentatious shredding cherished by Avenged Sevenfold. Such douchery is available in “Word to the Wise.” There are two, or even maybe three respectable solos on the eleven-track album, but none of them are particularly memorable. In other cases, halfhearted guitar parts and mediocre verses serve as a vehicle for a more compelling vocal section or instrumental feature. “Roots Remain” fits that description well, containing two clunky verses sung by Troy Sanders backed by an unpleasant guitar riff and an acceptable solo to pad the rather excellent vocals of Brann Dailor. Unfortunately, this gives similar songs on the album the vocal driven, for-the-masses rock experience heard on albums like Queensrych’s self-titled 2013 release. These have the regrettable quality of predictable track structure. The lyrics should be well inspired, but there are plenty of lazy rhymes like in “Ancient Kingdom.” The narrative is hindered by offending lazy lyrics, but it still captures a mournful tone. The vocal delivery is inconsistent, ranging from passable to excellent, but they, along with everything else on the album, seem a bit artificial. This gives the drumming, the most consistent element of the album alongside the unfaltering bass guitar, a very subtle case of metalcore drum kit.

Returning to the idea that “Emperor of Sand” sounds rushed, I am reminded of problems with transitions and pacing. “Show Yourself” and “Precious Stones” begin abruptly, as if they had their first half spliced away. The rapid and awkward verse/chorus transitions, while not limited to these tracks, are distracting. When each song ends, something seems to be missing.

There are satisfying parts here and there, like the refreshing guitar lead in “Scorpion Breath” but a comparable number of poor sections. In “Andromeda” the band seems to mistake loud and ugly for heavy. Where “Crack the Skye” is elegant and “Leviathan” is powerful, ‘Emperor of Sand” is choppy and weak. To wrap things up, I thought the mixing was representative of the Mastodon experience, except for the volume of the lead guitar at times. While this was a critical review “Emperor of Sand” is still a decent album, I just happen to be disappointed with the lack of sludge metal.

 

Score: 7/10

 

Album Review by Zachary Norton, April 2017

“Emperor of Sand”:

Breaking News: Fit For An Autopsy Announce Headlining Tour with Tombs and Moon Tooth

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Recently, the trailblazing, New Jersey based deathcore band, Fit For An Autopsy, announced a new headlining tour in support of their fourth full length album, “The Great Collapse”, which was released earlier this year.  The US tour will start this June and will run until the first week in July and features only 20 total dates.

What’s most interesting about this tour is the support FFAA will have while performing in support of “The Great Collapse”.  Only two other bands are embarking on this North American tour: the famous death metal band Tombs and lesser known, but extremely skilled, prog/math metal band Moon Tooth.  This support is pretty odd, yet fitting for the tour itself.  It is peculiar to see a deathcore band play alongside these notable bands, especially Tombs who have a completely different sound and possibly a bigger fan base, but FFAA is becoming one of the few versatile modern deathcore bands who can successfully and effectively tour with deathcore, metalcore, death metal, deathgrind, and other varying genres of extreme metal without appearing out of place on the lineup.  In fact, after further listening to the two supporting bands for the upcoming tour, it actually seems like the 3 groups themselves will actually fit well together on this upcoming tour.  Even though Tombs does embody a sound that is very unlike Fit For An Autopsy, the aggressiveness and overall heaviness of their sound is actually very similar in comparison.  Also, after listening briefly to Moon Tooth, its pretty apparent that their songwriting and guitar riffs heard on projects like “Chromaparagon” is extremely similar to FFAA, and one could even go on to say that riffs heard on “The Great Collapse” could be directly inspired and influenced by the 2016 Moon Tooth album.  A small group of diverse, yet similar bands should result in one of the most entertaining metal shows to come to a city near you this summer.

Fit For An Autopsy have seen some extremely successful recent years as a band.  Not only have they released some genre defying albums, but they’ve also had very well known, prominent bands like Tombs, Aborted, Lorna Shore, and Black Tongue open up for them.  This tour, which will feature FFAA playing mostly tracks off the latest full length album and older tracks that they haven’t performed in awhile, is sure to be one of the most interesting tours you will see all year.  The official tour poster is attached below for you to see where’s the nearest place to see FFAA, Tombs, and Moon Tooth perform on the same stage!  Also, I do want to mention that the new version of the artwork featured on the poster actually looks better than the original artwork.  The blueish filter applied to the artwork looks fantastic, and after seeing it I really wish it was used for the album itself, rather than just the tour poster.  Lastly, a video review of “The Great Collapse” will be posted to the Erik’s Album Reviews Youtube channel and will be one of the first ever reviews published in video form!  Check out the channel below and visit the site for more news and reviews about Fit For An Autopsy!

Erik’s Album Reviews Youtube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT2WZ3e5utc9eqs7JF8PnTA/videos

 

“The Great Collapse” Tour Poster:

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Breaking News: A Lot Like Birds Release Music Video For New Single “The Sound of Us”

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Shortly after releasing the first single for their upcoming album, “DIVISI”, A Lot Like Birds have another new single and music video to further build anticipation for the fourth full length studio album by the Sacramento based post hardcore band.  This latest single, titled “The Sound of Us”, showcases a better understanding of how diverse this album will be in composition while also giving ALLB fans a general idea of this new sound and song structure that A Lot Like Birds will encompass for years to come.

In my opinion, this track significantly resembles A Lot Like Birds’ older sound through certain aspects heard throughout “The Sound of Us”.  For starters, the sporadic and complex song structure is very similar to what is heard on “DIVISI’s” predecessor, “No Place”.  Even the use of various odd time signatures and artfully crafted instrumental performances easily sound like tracks heard on ALLB’s last two full length releases.  What differs “The Sound of Us” from these two records, however, is the absence of aggressive, even quirky sections that used to be prominent features in A Lot Like Birds tracks.  I for one think this is a reflection of positive improvement in songwriting, as the substitute of melodic, harsh vocal excluding influences replaces this hardcore/metalcore inspired aggressiveness that was both odd and, in my opinion, the sole aspect of ALLB’s material that held them back for the last few years.  Even though diehard fans might disagree with me and claim that this aggressive song structure is what brought ALLB to prominence, I believe this new sound heard in “For Shelley (Unheard)” and “The Sound of Us” is one that better fits the band itself and will have even more successful results than their sophomore and third full length albums.

Even though I still enjoy “For Shelley (Unheard)” a little more than “The Sound of Us”, due to it’s passionate and well thought out lyricism and overall anthemic structure that the song exemplifies, “The Sound of Us” is still a fantastic song.  Coming out of the gates with a fast paced tempo and technical yet melodic composition, “The Sound of Us” instantly grabs your attention and keeps you dialed in from start to finish.  This is also the first track released off “DIVISI” that features sections where Matt Coate is singing on his own.  This contrast and back-and-forth tag-team like approach to vocal tracking is something I instantly love and think will become one of the most memorable parts of “DIVISI”.  However, even though these two songs have been phenomenal singles, I still believe that “Trace the Lines” will completely steal the show once it is finally released!

The music video for “The Sound of Us” is attached below.  One thing I have noticed so far is that the “DIVISI” music videos appear to be well thought out and directed masterfully, with each one full of symbolism, fantastic actors, and even visual features that help enhance their respective tracks greatly.  I’m not sure how many music videos are left to be released for “DIVISI”, but if they follow this pattern step up by “For Shelley (Unheard)” and “The Sound of Us” then there’s no reason why they won’t be phenomenal.  Personally, I would love to see a video album to go alongside “DIVISI”, however the budget needed to accomplish this would be insanely high and is pretty much not feasible.  Regardless, this album is destined to be one of the best releases of 2017, even if you’re still reluctant to admit this, and A Lot Like Birds will benefit from this evolved sound more so than if they continued on the same path as “Conversation Piece” or “No Place”.  Essentially, A Lot Like Birds was very successful and accomplished before Kurt Travis joined and they adopted the more aggressive sound, and they will continue to find success without either one of these features.  Let us know what you think of “The Sound of Us” and stay tuned for more updates about A Lot Like Birds and their upcoming album, “DIVISI”.

 

“The Sound of Us”:

Track(s) of the Day Tuesday: FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY Black Mammoth and TREEREFLECTION Morning

Last week we unfortunately missed the deadline to add a new post to the segment “Track of the Day Tuesday”.  So today, in order to make up for last week, we have two tracks that you absolutely need to check out!

The first track you should give a listen to today is Fit For An Autopsy’s “Black Mammoth”.  Fit For An Autopsy is a band that I have recognized for years as one of the greatest modern deathcore bands.  Their profound lyricism and bone-crushing riffs and breakdowns have separated Fit For An Autopsy (FFAA) from the average modern deathcore band.  That being said, my standards for any material released by FFAA is extremely high, especially after their third full length record, “Absolute Hope, Absolute Hell”, was a very subpar follow up to one of greatest deathcore albums ever to be released, “Hellbound”.  So, when Fit For An Autopsy released “The Great Collapse” last Friday, my skepticism for whether or not FFAA will be able to redeem themselves was very high.  To my surprise, however, they greatly surpassed these expectations, and the track, “Black Mammoth”, was one of the leading factors that influenced this positive impression.

“Black Mammoth” is a track that discusses the vast negative impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline and how the destruction of the environment for various, insignificant reasons in situations similar to the Dakota Access Pipeline case study are not only drastic and inhumane towards those who live in these areas, but they also directly result in negative and irreversible consequences that affect all humans and inhabitants of this planet.  Even though FFAA is known for their remarkable lyricism, I was still pleasantly shocked to see them discuss such a significant topic in one of their tracks.  Not only is it rare that Fit For An Autopsy will discuss environmental issues in their music, but it is also extremely rare for environmental issues to be mentioned in metal music period!  Using their platform and limited space on their fourth full length album to discuss this prominent issue that we face today on a daily basis has caused my respect for Fit For An Autopsy to grow immensely.  Lyricism and lyrical message set aside, the instrumentation heard on “Black Mammoth” is easily the best performance on the entire record.  The melodic, yet still heavy riffs intertwine perfectly with Joe Badolato’s great vocal delivery, resulting in both a successful track and a record that surpasses its predecessor greatly.  Today you need to give this New Jersey based deathcore band a listen starting with the music video for “Black Mammoth” attached below.

The only thing more polarizing than extreme metal is ambient and soothing, soundscape filled electronic music.  After you have listened to the brutally heavy track that is “Black Mammoth” you should listen to the simply relaxing track “Morning” by TREEREFLECTION.  TREEREFLECTION is yet another fantastic artist represented by the successful Chilean vaporwave label, No Problema Tapes.  TREEREFLECTION, like the other well known artists on No Problema Tapes, writes primarily in atmospheric ambient music that heavily relies on the use of soundscapes and various pads.  What makes TREEREFLECTION stand out amongst the other No Problema artists is the incorporation of samples of sounds heard in nature and even slight but noticeable beats that help give “Morning” an electronic music vibe.  This style of songwriting is soothing, relaxing, stress relieving, and in my opinion, helps greatly with focusing on work.  I unfortunately could not find a stream of the song “Morning” individually, so instead I’ve attached the entire album, “Overcast” below.  Without a doubt, “Morning”, along with any other track heard on “Overcast”, is something you need to listen to today.

Even though “Morning” and “Black Mammoth” are two completely different songs, they are both “The Track of the Day Tuesday” and you absolutely need to give them a listen.  Whether it’s the genre defining song writing or even the impactful lyrical content on “Black Mammoth”, or the relaxing, blissfulness of “Morning”, it’s fair to say that these tracks are phenomenal and easily the two songs you should listen to today.  Check our past “Track of the Day Tuesday” installments to see what other songs we recommend you listen to, and of course, let us know what tracks you think should be featured on future “Track of the Day Tuesday” posts!

Breaking News: Austin Carlile Leaves Of Mice and Men

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Earlier today, Of Mice and Men frontman, Austin Carlile, announced that he will be leaving the prominent metalcore act.  According to the statement he released today, which is attached below, Carlile has been dealing with Marfan syndrome for a significant part of his career, and the constant touring and live performing that Of Mice and Men have taken on over the last few years have only worsened his condition.  In fact, the frontman goes on to say that if he continues to tour and perform with Of Mice and Men, the result would be inevitable “permanent and irrevocable damage to my spinal cord and nervous system”.  This is very upsetting to hear that Austin Carlile will have to step down from the band he started and helped grow into the metalcore titan that it is today.  According to his statement he will be living in Costa Rica from now on where he will be focusing on resting and healing.  Of course I hope he is able to relax and recover in his new home as well as continue to find ways to creatively express himself!

Personally, it has been a long time since I have listened to an Of Mice and Men album from front to back.  I started to stop following the band shortly after Restoring Force was released, but the first two records from Of Mice and Men will always be important releases to me.  They helped me get more involved in various genres in extreme music while also making Of Mice and Men a historic metalcore band that will be the face of the genre for decades to come.  It’s sad to think that I will never get the chance to see Of Mice and Men live with Austin again, but of course, his personal health is much more important than live performances or new albums.  The band has stated that they will continue as a four piece for now, but who knows, maybe they might eventually bring someone in to play older material, or maybe Jerry Roush will rejoin Of Mice and Men and do another metalcore cover of a pop song.  Regardless of what is in store for Of Mice and Men’s future, I hope Austin is able to recover and relax in his new home and he will truly be missed on stage!  We have a few more posts to share before the end of 2016 so stay tuned with us and have a Happy New Year!

Austin Carlile’s Personal Statement:

austin-carlile-leaving

The Thursday Ten: 12/29/16

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Even though we are a little late with posting this, here is this week’s “The Thursday Ten”!  This segment has been very rewarding to write this year and we’re glad to see that our viewers enjoyed reading these installments as much as we did with writing them!  This post is actually the last “The Thursday Ten” for all of 2016.  It’s amazing to see how many albums we gave ratings to this year and the staff here at Erik’s Album Reviews can’t wait to see what albums will make it onto “The Thursday Ten” next year!  Once again thank you for support and we will be back with more installments to “The Thursday Ten” next year!

  1. Deftones – Gore: 6/10
  2. Shokran – Exodus: 8/10
  3. Abbath – Abbath: 7/10
  4. Phantogram – Three: 6/10
  5. Zao – The Well-Intentioned Virus: 9/10
  6. Solange – A Seat At The Table: 8/10
  7. Norma Jean – Polar Similar: 8/10
  8. Emarosa – 131: 9/10
  9. Angelmaker/A Night In Texas – Split EP: 8/10
  10. Hodgy – Fireplace – TheNotTheOtherSide: 8/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/the-thursday-ten-111516/