Many of Of Mice & Men‘s fans were surprised when clean vocalist Aaron Pauley confirmed he would be taking on lead vocal duties alongside the release of first single Unbreakable, but Defy takes on a blend of the sounds of Of Mice & Men‘s older material and Pauley’s former band Jamie’s Elsewhere during his vocal tenure.
Defy is kicked off with the title track which again shocked a large portion of the fanbase when it was released. A return to heavy riffs and crushing vocals is evident as soon as the song kicks in with screams and chugging guitars dominating all of the space on the recording. Come the chorus, these somewhat make way for a wide, sweeping gang vocal that demonstrates the incorporation of Restoring Force ideas for what seems like the first time since it was released. The heaviest breakdown since at least 2011’s The Flood hits around halfway through the track, bookended by the choruses that ground the track safely in the band’s style. A very promising start.
Following up the opener comes what is arguably the best song on the album – titled Instincts. The sheer power of the guitar work is sure to be enough to make many sit in awe of the tone crafted throughout, and backed up by the cymbal-filled drum wrap-around created by Tino and the producers that cuts through the chunky guitar-bass hybrid. The wah-riddled solo from Phil sounds dystopian in sections and is just plain technical in others – this is a lead guitarist who has his confidence and ability on display now more than ever before. It’s not all heavy and crazy though – lighter songs including pre-release single Back To Me are sure to keep fans of the newer eras of the band with the catchy choruses and more middle-of-the-road rock sound they have crafted.
Vocally throughout, Aaron sounds very much in practice as if he never slowed up his screaming at all. Forever YDG’n is written somewhat as a tribute to the first two albums of the band, and the vocal work throughout the tune does it justice entirely. Slightly contrasting the nostalgia is Sunflower which brings a new dual-scream dynamic with Pauley providing harsh growls alongside higher screams to create a wonderful blend that matches the feeling of the instrumentals perfectly.
The elephant in the room must be addressed though: yes, the track titled Money really is a cover of thatPink Floyd song. Was it expected? Not at all. Does it work? Honestly, it does in its own strange way. Taken as a single, the cover seems to be a rather strange rendition and outside the comfort zone of Of Mice & Men as a band, but when woven into the fabric of the album as a whole the placement of the song and the themes within the lyrics work to slot in seamlessly.
Overall, Defy is a fantastic return to form for a band that seemed to lose their way with their last release. Losing the spearhead figure of your band often crushes all morale and demands dramatic reinvention. As Robert Burns said in his poem from which the band’s name originated, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley” – Of Mice & Men had the perfect solution to Defy all expectations.
In terms of live performance, The Five Hundred are a total throwback. Complete with 8 string guitars and 5 string bass, the dance moves are somewhat reminiscent of a 2009 crab-filled Attack Attack! set. That’s where the similarities end though; guitarists Mark Byrne and Paul Doughty put together some fantastic chugging riffs and slick leads which combine with the thumping bass and drums for a real suckerpunch sound.
Unfortunately, the boxy and untreated venue didn’t do much for the heavy tones of the locals; frontman John Eley’s vocals were often lost in the somewhat sludgy sound bounding around the room to the extent that it looked as if he was forcing himself to go louder in parts in order to be heard. That aside, a solid set from good local talent. [6/10]
Harrogate natives Blood Youth were the touring support on this run, bringing their melodic hardcore mania to the Rescue Rooms stage. Well-experienced in playing their debut full-length Beyond Repair by now since its release in April, the heavy verses blew the audience away as is the custom of the three-piece. A better set of tonal settings allowed each band member to cut through the sludgy sound in the venue and despite some microphone issues while walking out onto the stage, frontman Kaya Tarsus put on a phenomenal show.
It’s rare to have someone who has fantastic clean vocals as well as screams and even more rare for them to be backed up by musicians who can also sing, but all three permanent members can harmonise and take over each other’s parts seamlessly; drummer Sam Hallett doing a line in the chorus of I Remember to allow Kaya to breathe indicating the seamless transitioning.
In the middle of the set, Tarsus informed the crowd about filming a video for the self-proclaimed “hesviest Blood Youth song” Parasite, which got the full response it deserved. A great crowd reaction throughout for the band, proving they are one of the best touring bands right now, period. [9/10]
Headliners Blessthefall were last up to work their magic for the Nottingham audience, which perfectly did the job of topping off the night. Having the two vocalists allows Blessthefall an opportunity of having the depth in both vocalists’ voices to do each half immaculately, but having the designated frontman being the clean vocalist in a heavy band means Beau Bokan can move around a lot more – he spent nigh-on half the show in the crowd giving high-fives and hugs.
Ploughing through tracks old and new only showed off Bokan’s vocal abilities, combining with Jared’s screams (also immaculate throughout the set) and Eric’s silky-smooth leads led to a melody/aggression combination that was backed up with the rhythm section to a T. A fantastic set from a band who seem to have a lot to prove over the next couple of years. [8/10]
See some fan-filmed footage of 2015 album track Dead Air performed on Saturday:
Metalcore outfit Memphis May Fire have just dropped their newest single titled Virus. A track with classic MMF riffs yet a distinct lack of screams, vocally could this be a new direction for the band? Check it out below:
Catch the band at any Warped Tour date and grab the single here.
UK Melodic Hardcore band Faultlines released their newest single Breathe on the 9th June, this release was accompanied by a video. This new single and video not only allows the band to showcase their updated lineup but also show off the potential this band has moving into the future. Breathe houses this very anthemic composition that shows off the band’s new members but also shows this bright future Faultlines has. Check out the video and single for Breathe below.
Aussie metalcore outfit The Amity Affliction have jumped on board Pop Goes Punk Vol 7 with their cover of The Weeknd‘s Can’t Feel My Face. This is the second single to be released from Fearless Records upcoming compilation album which is set for a release date of the 14th July. Check out the video for the single below:
Punk Goes Pop Vol. 7 Tracklist:
1. State Champs – ‘Stitches’ by Shawn Mendes
2. Dance Gavin Dance – ‘That’s What I Like’ by Bruno Mars
3. New Years Day – ‘Gangsta’ by Kehlani
4. The Amity Affliction – ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ by The Weeknd
5. Andy Black (feat. Juliet Simms) – ‘When We Were Young’ by Adele
6. Grayscale – ‘Love Yourself’ by Justin Bieber
7. Capsize – ‘Fake Love by Drake
8. Boston Manor – ‘Heathens’ by Twenty One Pilots
9. Eat Your Heart Out – ‘Shape Of You’ by Ed Sheeran
10. The Plot In You – ‘Let It Go’ by James Bay
11. Ice Nine Kills – ‘I Don’t Wanna Live Forever’ by ZAYN, Taylor Swift
12. Seaway – ‘Closer (feat. Halsey)’ by The Chainsmokers
13. Too Close To Touch – ‘In The Name Of Love’ by Martin Garrix & Bebe Rexha
Midlands metalcore outfit Oceans Ate Alaska have announced the upcoming release of their next album Hikari, due out July 28th via Fearless Records. This will be the first release with Jake Noakes fulfilling vocal duties since his addition earlier this year. Hikari translates to ‘light’ in English, reflecting the band’s current mindset and highlighting major strides in the group’s sonic vocabulary. With a lyrical and musical theme rooted in Samurai mythology, the 11-track album blends traditional Japanese instruments with Oceans Ate Alaska‘s dynamic flare.
“We have a huge amount of respect for Japanese culture, especially their music, these unique and beautiful instruments have inspired us to create something brand new, and we are beyond proud of the end result!” – Chris Turner, drums
Jun 15 – Plymouth, UK @ Underground
Jun 16 – Bridgend, UK @ Hobos
Jun 17 – Manchester, UK @ Satan’s Hollow
Jun 18 – Glasgow, UK @ Opium
Jun 19 – Newcastle, UK @ Jumpin Jacks
Jun 20 – Northampton, UK @ Roadmender
Jun 21- Southampton, UK @ The Joiners
Jun 24 – Ysselsteyn, Netherlands @ Jera On Air
Jun 30 – Rotterdam, Netherlands @ Baroeg
Jul 1 – Zug, Switzerland @ Industrie45
Jul 2 – Milano, Italy @ Dissonance Festival
Jul 3 – Lyon, France @ Warmaudio
Jul 7 – Newark, UK @ UK Tech-Fest
Aug 5 – Munich, Germany @ Backstage
Aug 12 – Jaromer, Czech Republic @ Brutal Assault Festival
w/ AUGUST BURNS RED
Aug 16 – Budapest, Hungary @ Dürer Kert
Aug 20 – Stuttgart, Germany @ Universum
Aug 22 – Dornbirn, Austria @ Conrad Sohm
Aug 23 – Aschaffenburg, DE @ Colos Saal
Aug 24 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Melweg
Aug 27 – Antwerp, Belgium @ Trix Club
Aug 28 – Paris, France @ Petit Bain
A lot of people are spoilt for choice or just don’t have a clue to watch for some of this year’s Slam Dunk Festival, so hopefully our picks here will give you a little food for thought.
You Know The Drill (Midlands only)
You Know The Drill may only be on the bill due to being competition winners but it was something that was thoroughly deserved. A band that’s worked hard over the last couple of years put blood, tears and sweat into their lives shows and leave the audience in awe at their musical ability. Catch them at 13.30 on Rock Sound Breakout Stage.
Sorority Noise hail from Connecticut and are comprised of members from Prawn and Old Gray. Together they are housing this indie rock/emo style which has taken the band on tour with Modern Baseball and others. This year the band released their latest full length record You’re Not As _____ As You Think, a record which showcased not only their musical prowess but also the beautiful lyricism of vocalist Cam Boucher. Alongside this release the band last year released a beautiful yet harrowing EP titled It Kindly Stopped For Me which was well received by fans and critics alike. If you are free during their set they aren’t a band to miss. Catch them at 14.15 on Signature Brew Stage.
After the release of their masterpiece album, “Love Is Not Enough”, Casey have grown from strength to strength, making their presence felt in the UK scene. Appearing on Rocksound’s Breakout Stage, this melodic emo 5 piece is not a band you want to be sleeping on. Catch them at 14.25 on Rock Sound Breakout Stage.
Trophy Eyes are one of the best bands to come out of Australia in a long long time. With a mix of pop punk, punk and hardcore they bring something for everyone. Their latest album Chemical Miracle saw the band tone down their heaviness in some parts, but none the less was an amazing record. Expect chaos in a live set, the energy that band bring is second to none. Catch them at 14.35 on Monster Energy Stage.
Having had an extensive European run with Creeper finishing just weeks ago, Milk Teeth are back out on the road for more. They debuted new track Owning Your Okayness from upcoming third EP Be Nice a couple of weeks back on the Radio 1 Rock Show and have guaranteed they will be playing the tune at all three days of the festival which is sure to please fans. The female-fronted four-piece stand as the upcoming emo/grunge band at the moment and have toured with names including Tonight Alive who are headlining Key Club stage at the festival. Catch them at 15.10 on Signature Brew Stage.
Having toured the US and EU extensively, Boston Manor are back on home soil stronger than ever. Their bold yet effective twist of pop punk and alternative proved dominant in their latest release “Be Nothing.” and their live performances emphasis this. Upgrading from the Fresh Blood stage last year, they’ll be hitting up the Key Club Stage this time around and they’re definitely not one to be missed. Catch them at 16.20 on Key Club Stage.
Hardcore Punk quintet Beartooth will be returning to Slam Dunk this year after a year out, bringing their high energy performance along with them. With 2 albums and an EP to their name, these guys have the songs to back up their incredible stage presence. Their latest album Aggressive – which topped at #25 in the US album charts – has proven these guys can do it all, from heavy riffs in Rock Is Dead to a softer acoustic track in King Of Anything. Catch them at 17.40 on Jagermeister (Main) Stage.
Probably one of the most prolific emo bands of recent memeory, Citizen have been a favourite of many since the release of Youth in 2013. As a band Citizen are matching powerful guitars and well constructed vocal melodies together to bring along tracks which are both harrowing but also gorgeous. In 2015 the band released their latest record Everybody Is Going To Heaven. If you haven’t yet check them out and be sure to catch them at Slam Dunk. Catch them at 18.10 on Signature Brew Stage.
The Fearless Records four-piece broke through into the big league with their cover of Taylor Swift‘s Blank Space back in 2015 after releasing their Heart Vs Mind EP in 2014 and succeeding it with 2016’s debut album Lifelines. I Prevail never fail in blending pop vocals with bonecrushing metalcore verses and breakdowns, and they’re here on their first trip to the UK to prove that in front of a brand new audience alongside labelmates Ice Nine Kills and Oceans Ate Alaska as part of their Fearless Invasion tour. Catch them at 18.30 on Impericon Stage.
Getting ready to give the UK their first ever presence, Metalcore powerhouse Sylar have many different ways to get you fixated on what they’re able to bring to the table. Their latest album ‘Help’ is a showcase of their arsenal of low end riffs and a powerful bounce that emanates through the recording and will no doubt power through their live set with tracks such as ‘Assume’ as well as their older tracks from their debut record ‘To Who It May Concern’ which can produce a lot more of their heavier side. A band who will be looking to make a deep mark on the mainland this coming weekend. Catch them at 19.00 on Rock Sound Breakout Stage.
Ocean Grove There’s no denying that the band made quite a stirring with their latest album offering ‘The Rhapsody Tapes’ which helped give off a newer and fresher side of the group. Now they are another group looking to make a lasting first impression on UK soil. It will be an exciting element to see how their tracks flow from one another with a mixed bad set of tracks such as ‘These Boys Light Fires’ as well as ‘Intimate Alien’ with their flavourful instrumentation and the fact that a lot of people enjoy all the bands from Australia due to what they’ve been able to provide musically should put these guys at the top of your list as the underdogs of the festival. Catch them at 20.50 on Rock Sound Breakout Stage.
After a few relatively quiet years, Enter Shikari are back to headline Slamdunk this year for a ten year anniversary celebration of their debut album Take To The Skies. Few are unaware of the group, thanks to the fateful ‘clap clap’ song (Sorry You’re Not A Winner). Due to their unique electronic rock sound, Enter Shikari appeal to the alternative/rock crowd, the heavier metal crowd, and the dance/electronic crowd. They are a sound choice for headlining a festival that appeals to as many people as Slam Dunk does, and their live performance is always a spectacle to behold. Catch them at 21.25 on Jagermeister (Main) Stage.
Bowling For Soup
Pop punk legends Bowling For Soup will be gracing the Slam Dunk stage this year. With fan favourites such as 1985, Girl All the Bad Guys Want and their rendition of Stacy’s Mom this is sure to be a set not to miss. Lead singer Jared is heading out on his solo acoustic tour later this year, so you don’t want to miss the chance of seeing the whole band bringing their incredibly fun live show to the UK. Catch them at 21.45 on Fireball Stage.
Memphis May Fire
Memphis May Fire is one of those underrated groups that have been around for ages and never really broken hugely into the UK music scene. Metalcore is a very under appreciated genre in the UK, but it seems to be the overarching theme this year for Slam Dunk. Coming off the success of their latest album The Light I Hold, Slam Dunk will be one of the last shows of the UK leg of the tour, with a quick stop in Spain before returning to the US.
Birmingham progressive metalcore quintet OCEANS ATE ALASKA have released new single ‘Covert’, their first with vocalist Jake Noakes who joined the band earlier this year. Have a listen to this new single below!
The newly reformed heavy act Eighteen Visions have released a brand new track. Originally premiering with Kerrang.com, The track ‘ The Disease, The Decline and Wasted Time‘ is taken from their long-awaited new album ‘XVIII‘ and you can listen below!
After a lot of label issues and vocal member troubles, Volumes now seem to have made itself into a new family and been given a new home within Fearless Records to help showcase what groovetacular material the band can muster for you. Having already released two album thats are widely received positively throughout the progressive metal and djent community, it’s time to see how much weight ‘Different Animals’ has to this new beast.
The album opener ‘Waves Control’ immediately opens with a powerful tone coming from the guitars and showing off what you might have expected from the band from the get go. The heavier qualities are definitely par for the course with the lead guitar elements at points sadly drowning that out just before their new clean vocalist makes your forget about that. Myke Terry has become, aside of the powerful guitar/bass tones that shine through, one of the greatest parts of the record. The next track ‘Finite’ shows off a lot more of his range and presence with him being the main feature for the majority of the track, flowing around the guitar riffs and drum patterns and feeling like a much needed breath of fresh air to the bands discography and definitely the right choice for the feel. After going through the already popular ‘Feels Good’ track, it moves into another groovy affair with ‘Disaster Vehicle’ which bring powerful punchy grooves that will no doubt get the crowd bumping and vibing to their songs planted on this record, but within this lies the biggest flaw about the record.
The groove elements feel near enough the same through and through that its easy to find yourself getting a bit disorganised within the record that it just doesn’t feel that special to you when you listen to it. Sure, the record goes on a lot more melodically built path thanks to the bands versatility and that helps make tracks ‘Heavy Silence’ stand out with its subtle nuances that make the record that much more diverse in its production. The downside to that is the whole noticabilitely on that makes the interlude-esque tracks much more redundant in their presentation. The interlude itself as well as ‘Tides Change’ feel like they have no discernible place on the record other than to fill up space. The rap/hip hop elements are rife within ‘Hope’ and ‘On Her Mind’ with the vocals going on a different section. This helps raise the intrigue of the record as it shows again another side of the band. The electronic elements on the former track help round out the atmosphere of the record whereas with the latter, special guest Pouya gives the album that extra surprise and tenacity with his flow being that much more enunciated by the drum/bass combo in the background.
An album that has been on the waiting list for many fans might leave them undesired as the record doesn’t truly showcase what is great about this band. With the eyes being blinded by this much anticipated release, it takes a few listens to get realisation that the band are still growing and still trying to make a big mark on the genre as well as their fanbase. This doesn’t mark a step back, but more of a new step on a separate path that will no doubt give people something salivating for in the future.