Shane & Ryan Flynn
A Retrospective: Of Mice & Men - Cold World
Of Mice & Men were one of , if not the hottest band in the core scene at one time. After 2011's fan acclaimed favorite, The Flood, the band began to receive radio play and the proverbial rocket was strapped to them by the music industry. 2014's highly anticipated third studio album Restoring Force far exceeded it's lofty expectations by selling astonishingly high first week numbers and debuting at number 4 on the Billboard 200 Chart. Shortly after this new found success came a South American tour with Linkin Park as the sole opener, which is truly incredible in retrospect. Unfortunately it was at this time that lead vocalist Austin Carlile begun to face severe complications from Marfan Syndrome and things began to unravel. It was during this time period that the band entered back into the studio for their fourth record which became 2016's Cold World, which would go on to be their most negatively reacted to album. Cold World is still cited by many fans as the all-time low point for Of Mice & Men as well as a dark point as it would ultimately be Carlile's final record with the group before bassists Aaron Pauley assumed full-time vocal duties. I find it intriguing to further examine Cold World and see if it's as bad as people say or do the circumstances surrounding it effect it's reputation.
Upon listening to the album my thoughts on this release have completely changed. Not only is Cold World not as bad as people say, it's actually an excellent record from top to bottom. Kicked off with a soft, mood setting opening track before launching into catchy bounce educing rager, the album quickly establishes that this is a stylistic change for Of Mice & Men. This is by far the bands least metalcore release and perhaps that's what turned off many fans about it. Aaron Pauley's talent for writing memorable choruses that sound like they belong in early 2000's hits really begins to shine here as well as his increased vocal skill. This record also features the most clean singing Austin Carlile has ever done and it works surprisingly well, coming off very similar to Linkin Park's Chester Bennington. Cold War is not at all devoid of some great crushing breakdowns, they are just set up and delivered in a different way than you're run-of-the-mill metalcore which is quite refreshing. There is stronger influence from bands who blend nu-metal and post-hardcore such as Deftones and Linkin Park than from the bands previous influences like As I Lay Dying and Unearth. This album far exceeding the expectations I had for it, containing a great mix of some of the bands catchiest and heaviest songs.
So my questions have been answered. Is Cold World as much of a misstep as people make it out to be? Not even close, it's actually a creative and triumphant farewell for Austin Carlile and a table setter for new band figurehead Aaron Pauley. Some people feel the band was solely reaching for radio success on this album and maybe that is partially true, but when you can do it to the level that Of Mice & Men can with the songwriting ability that they posses, there is no reason for them not to. After another listen, this record has actually bumped a few of their others to fit right in the middle of my ranking of their discography. If you're truly a dedicated fan of Of Mice & Men I suggest you give Cold World another listen with a different mindset. Cold World is fantastic and would get a 4 our of 5 from us.