Of Mice and Men have achieved a huge amount in such a short period of time as band. 2014’s Restoring Force led to tours with Linkin Park, a top 5 Billboard 200 record, and sold out show at London’s Brixton Academy; so new album Cold World has a lot resting on it’s shoulders.
It’s immediate from the opening notes of ‘Game of War’ that once again Of Mice and Men aren’t afraid of changing their sound; channelling softer elements of Grunge with hints of Nine Inch Nails, it’s by far the most ambitious track they’ve ever written. ‘The Lie’ takes you back to familiar territory, echoing far more the Of Mice and Men of old, though the faux-political lyrics are jarring. ‘Pain’ stands out as the heaviest track on Cold World with slipknot-lite guitars, while ‘Like A Ghost’ has the potential to be the best track on the album, let down by it’s production…which leads us onto the next point.
The overall production of Cold World unfortunately sucks any life the tracks may have had, live they could have more of an impact, but the guitar tone in particular is so low in the mix and has so little personality that it’s hard to feel any emotion from what the band may be trying to achieve. ‘Pain’ in particular with a beefy, bass-led tone could be brilliant, but it just isn’t.
There are positives however, Austin Carlile and Aaron Pauley’s vocals throughout sound incredible, and breathe some feeling into the tracks that lack elsewhere, but that’s a minor salvage for the album.
Cold World is a huge opportunity for Of Mice and Men, providing them with a real chance to get radio airtime and consolidate their position as a leading rock/metal band both here and in the States, however it also runs the risk of alienating older fans too. Changing sound is a common theme this year as evidenced by Bring Me The Horizon and letlive., both who achieved it far more successfully. Given time, a few more songs like ‘Game of War’ and a remastered version, and Cold World may well fare a little better.