Album review: Of Mice & Men – Tether

California metalcore quartet Of Mice & Men squeak on low-powered eighth album…

Album review: Of Mice & Men – Tether
Nick Ruskell

Of Mice & Men have spent the years since the departure of frontman Austin Carlile in 2016 not gamely soldiering on, but actually making some of the best and most interesting music of their career. Perhaps not to the same level of applause, but with bassist Aaron Pauley up front on the mic, they’ve expanded both the aggression and the big moments of Linkin Park-y melody that form the base of their sound far beyond what they might have been doing.

Defy from 2018 was a raging declaration they weren’t going down easy, the following year’s EARTHANDSKY recalibrated just how heavy they could be, and 2021’s Echo, built of three EPs and thus breaking the traditional ebb and flow of a record, had enough moments of creative fancy to keep curiosity up so far in.

Sadly, on Tether they often sound, ironically, tied down. Warpaint pointed to a record of lively aggression when it was released, but this banger, and the festival-ready bounce of Castaway, are the only things here with any real bite.

The songs themselves would be passably enjoyable were it not all so politely executed. Opener Integration should be a big, electronic-tinged, BMTH-esque curtain-raiser. Instead it’s ruined by having all the passion of a soundcheck, and sounds like a plan of a good song rather than the main event. Ditto Shiver, which sounds like a bored Linkin Park. Frustratingly, there are good ideas here, and Of Mice & Men still show a creative willing to try things out, but the interesting mix of heavy chonk and dreamy vocal melodies on Indigo is left in first gear.

Live, these songs will probably find the required juice to make them stand as tall as they might. As it is, Tether all too often comes across as vague, distant, and in need of a spark to set the whole thing off.

Verdict: 2/5

For fans of: Bring Me The Horizon, Linkin Park, Polaris

Tether is out now via SharpTone

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