Of Mice And Men live review – London, Islington Academy

Austin Carlile makes an emotional return to the UK with Of Mice And Men. Check out our live review here.

Of Mice And Men metal band

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After only a couple of minutes in their company it’s obvious that HELLIONS [3] are an absolute mess. You could forgive a fairly new band of a lack of stagecraft and songs that don’t quite match their full potential, but what is inexcusable is the sloppy, nonchalant attitude the band exhibit as they drift around the stage looking bored and distracted. You’re supporting OF MICE & MEN [8] for fuck’s sake, not finishing your shift at McDonalds on a hangover!

The inadequacy is all the more apparent when they’re followed by a band that a) have built on their potential to the point where they can turn up to venues five times bigger than this and dominate it, and b) clearly wouldn’t swap being up on that stage for anywhere else on Earth. The sound, as per in this soulless shell of a venue, starts off pretty poorly, but OM&M make you forget the muddy guitar tone and the ‘there one minute, gone the next’ lead vocals through sheer personality and the fact that the audience sing every word back at them at full volume. As usual, the star of the show is the enigmatic Austin Carlile.

To see a man who has been through so much in the last 12 months step back onstage for the first time in a year and give such a commanding, heartfelt performance, to the point where he is having to fight back the tears as the band leave before their encore at the end of a spinetingling Second & Sebring, is really special. His band are freakishly tight considering the length of their hiatus. Powerhouse drummer Valentino Arteaga stands out in particular, smashing away at his kit like a metalcore John Bonham for a full hour. If the ecstatic audience have anything to grumble about, it’s that they don’t get to hear any of the new material the band have been working on recently and that, as anyone who was at their Brixton Academy show last year will attest, these-sized venues are an absolute walk in the park for a band who can toss out sleek and wonderfully crafted metallic home runs like Broken Generation and Would You Still Be There early or mid-way in their set without fear of fatigue. OM&M so obviously belong in settings far grander than this. With the band due to return to these shores and much larger shows in October, their rightful place will soon be reclaimed.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.