I started working on my set of Of Mice & Men pictures a couple days ago while rocking out to the newest singles, “Back To Me” and “Unbreakable.” I finished the gallery last night, but went to bed figuring I’d post the photos today. Coincidental timing, seeing the sad news that former vocalist Austin Carlile is back in the hospital this morning to have further surgery associated with Marfan syndrome.
I’m not going to sugar coat it, it took me years to get into Of Mice & Men. The first couple albums were too heavy musically and the vocals came across as high pitched screams. I finally saw them live for the first time in 2014 at Rock on the Range, shortly after Restoring Force was released. They seemed to have found a better balance and added more clean singing that clicked with me. Naturally, just as I started truly appreciating them, Austin announced his departure from the band. I was skeptical, especially once it was announced that bassist Aaron Pauley would be taking over lead vocals.
I gotta say though, Aaron sounds amazing on both the new songs AND in the live translation. The only thing I slightly missed was him not being able to run around the stage and interact like Austin did. It makes sense though, since Aaron is now on double duty with vocals and bass.
Regardless, guitarists Phil Manansala and Alan Ashby bring enough energy (and hair) with them that there is still plenty of action on stage.
Expressive and playful drummer Valentino Arteaga can’t go without mention, either. I met him the week prior at Welcome to Rockville where he candidly spoke about the new songs, videos and how much material they are sitting on. Ran into him again at other festivals throughout the month and I loved how genuinely happy he always was to be performing.
These guys have done a fantastic job reforming themselves as a quartet in the face of a tough situation. I’m stoked to hear whatever they put out next!