Few hard rock albums are as intimate as OF MICE & MEN's modern work. Their songs may have the rhythmic heft and anthemic bombast that thrills festival-goers, but the confessional lyrics and haunting melodies are at the heart of their work. The Southern California quartet took all creative matters into their own hands, producing all the songs on Tether, their amazing eighth album. Frontman Aaron Pauley mixed and mastered the album, while drummer Valentino Arteaga designed and painted the album's artwork. Guitarists Phil Manansala and Alan Ashby, Aaron and Tino, as expected by a legion of loyal listeners around the world, poured their heart and soul into every note, creating another sonic document of their lives.
"With this album, we didn't focus on how it sounds so much as how it feels," Pauley explains. "And that's a strange thing to do with just sounds. But that was really the goal. And we walked away from the production feeling like we accomplished that."
OM&M take a sobering look at depression, anxiety, loneliness and existential angst, providing strength in the darkness and emphasizing the importance of creativity as a balm for mental health.
Of Mice & Men unite an impressive storm of sound that combines the uplifting eloquence of modern active rock with the atmospheric dissonance of experimental post-rock. The band first emerged as part of a vanguard of future aggressive rock hitmakers. Over the years, they have distinguished themselves through their musicianship, creative ambition and resilient determination.
Songs like the GOLD-certified "SECOND & SEBRING," "Would You Still Be There" and "Obsolete" from 2021's "Echo" put OM&M at the forefront of hard rock and post-hardcore music. (WWE superstar Rhea Ripley counts "SECOND & SEBRING" as one of the ten songs that changed her life, alongside classics by Queen, Taylor Swift, Falling In Reverse and Motionless In White.)
The success of their 2010 self-titled debut, its follow-up The Flood the following year, and the Billboard Independent album Restoring Force, which hit #1 in 2014, catapulted them to a major tour with Linkin Park. With Cold World (2016), they were on the road with Slipknot and Five Finger Death Punch.
In 2013, the California band won the award for Best International Newcomer at the Kerrang! Awards and was nominated twice for Artist of the Year at the APMAs, with Manansala winning Best Guitarist.
The band's 2018 album Defy spotlighted the voice of longtime bassist Aaron. "Of Mice & Men leave nothing out with Pauley as their frontman," writes Loudwire. "Defy delivers the sound fans have come to expect (big hooks, monster grooves and sing-along melodies) while breaking new ground." The band supported Defy on tour with Bullet For My Valentine and Nothing More, among others.
Kerrang! praised the incredibly heavy Earthandsky (2019) as "confident, cohesive" and "furious." Australia's Wall Of Sound called it "the perfect balance in melodic metalcore" and "a great addition to their legendary catalog and the contribution they've made throughout their career as a band."
Earthandsky paved the way for the following three EPs, which were grouped together under the name Echo in 2021. As OM&M wrote in a joint statement, Echo "deals with life and impermanence, love and the infinite - how the most wonderful and tragic parts of the human experience are deeply intertwined."
Album eight is no less ambitious. Tether is a thoughtful meditation on what it means to stick together as friends, family men, artists and bandmates. What does it mean to be there for the people who rely on us, even though we know we can't fully protect them from life's hardships?
"We've worked with so many talented producers and artists over the course of our career, and we've been able to learn something from everyone," Pauley explains. "We've really left ourselves wide open when it comes to writing. Every time a spark of imagination caught someone's attention, we went after it."
Tether is the next step in OM&M's evolution, combining their core sound with experimental and ethereal sound designs. The creative process focused on the excitement of discovery rather than preconceived "goals." Looking for those moments when the elusive "X-factor" reveals itself in the songs. These moments are palpable in songs like "Integration," "Warpaint," "Enraptured" and "Indigo."
"Emotions and feelings are fleeting and change. Things that excite you one day don't always excite you the next," Pauley says. "For us, it was about constantly and endlessly chasing a feeling. Not only do we feel like we're making an album that we can be proud of and that will resonate with our fans, but there's something deeply human about chasing excitement in the process. As the saying goes, 'The man who loves to go will go further than the man who loves the destination.'"
The core of Of Mice & Men - Aaron, Alan, Tino and Phil - which has been in place since 2016, maintains a strong connection with their audience and each other no matter what obstacles arise. Whether it's a powerful anthem or an atmospheric confession, their songs resonate in intimate clubs and at large festivals. "It's about creating moments for people," Pauley says. "Music is the soundtrack for people's lives."This content has been machine translated.
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