More than just a book

Kayla Gaydos, Guest Writer

We all know the world-famous novel by John Steinbeck, Of Mice And Men, but the name is not reserved only for Steinbeck.
There is also a band called Of Mice & Men. East Lake High School has an
extremely varied music taste, meaning most of the school may have never even
heard of the metalcore band. They’re my all-time favorite band, with three
consecutive albums released over the past few years, and their latest album
“The Flood” has the fangirls/fanboys fangirling/-boying harder than
ever.

Though I’ve only said
“metalcore band,” you’ve probably already made up your mind about Of Mice
& Men without actually hearing their music. They’re signed to the record
label Rise Records, who have a typical image in the bands they sign: deep
v-necks, beep-boop-beep noises, and running in place choreography. Basically
crabcore, which was lead vocalist Austin Carlile’s former technojunkcore Rise
band, Attack Attack! Thankfully, Of Mice & Men is not “Stick
Stickly.” Instead, they’ve created a band that’s a bit more technical.

Now before we get too
ahead of ourselves, let’s just make clear that Of Mice & Men are not
reinventing the wheel on this genre. Dear friend & fellow Of Mice & Men
aficionado Chelsea Shay, gives her opinion on the band’s image: “If
anything, they’re biting the style made popular by well-known metal band The
Devil Wears Prada. Brash screams, shrill clean vocals, some noodling on the
guitar, breakdown, breakdown, BREAKDOWN, with the appearance of an acoustic
track here and there.” Rinse, wash, and repeat for the typical ten to
sixteen tracks. Right off the bat, “O.G. Loko” brings the heat. No
one can deny that Carlile is a fantastic screamer; his voice never falters
throughout all fourteen tracks. Fourteen tracks? I thought you said there were
sixteen? Though I had said sixteen tracks, the beginning track on the reissue
of the album The Calm is only instrumental,
and the former clean-vocalist Shayley Bourget sings the acoustic track
“When You Can’t Sleep At Night” at the tail end of the album.

The urgency in this
album is great though; songs like “Product of a Murderer” and “OHIOISONFIRE”
are incredibly frantic, with Carlile violently screaming “It’s all been said,
I’m a nightmare and I’m going crazy!/You’re going nowhere so I’m taking you
with me, myself, and I,/Is all I’ve got and I don’t give a.. . ” in the
first few verses. “Purified” has one of catchier choruses on the album,
while “Repeating Apologies” reigns as the heaviest track, as it really
showcases the band’s musical talents.

So in a genre that is
so over saturated with bands that have the same haircuts and same sound, does
Of Mice & Men stand out? Well, kind of. They certainly have the potential.
Huge fan & mother of mine Suzanne Gaydos also shares her thoughts on the
band: “Well, they’re catchy and energetic, certainly exciting live!”
Guitarists Phil Manansala, Shayley Bourget and Alan Ashby, and drummer
Valentino Arteaga are all extremely talented and passionate musicians, and
there are plenty of instances of fine musicianship. The problem is it’s too
safe, too formulaic and too predictable. The talent is there, now it’s time to
branch out. Also, while Carlile’s screams are vicious, there isn’t a lot of
depth to it, as it would be nice to hear some range every now and then.
Lyrically, you’ve heard all of this before as well. But the urgency and
intensity will help Of Mice & Men’s debut album to stand out from the poop
pile that is modern “screamo/metalcore” (or whatever genre you want to classify
it as). A popular reissue of the second album (they only added four songs), I
can’t wait to see these guys evolve in the coming future.