Label: Rise Records
If there's an MVP on Defy, Of Mice and Men's fifth full-length, the award would have to go to bassist and singer Aaron Pauley. After losing not one but two vocalists in Shayley Bourget and Austin Carlile between 2012 and 2016, the resilient bruisers turn to Pauley to step to the mic; he in turn delivers a torrent of ferocious growls and soaring gasps spread across a set that balances the band's traditional metalcore pounce ("Instincts," "Warzone") with melodic, hook-littered anthems inspired by alt metal ("Defy," "How Will You Live"). Pauley's emotional range is impressive, especially when he leads the band through a slow and thoroughly beastly version of Pink Floyd's classic rock staple “Money” that sounds like a cross between doom and groove metal. Of Mice and Men have survived adversity and sound all the better for it.