Of Mice and Men – Restoring Force Review

Review by Kelly O

Restoring Force is the third studio record by Of Mice and Men and it is yet another rebirth, reinvention or reincarnation of the band. This is nothing new to fans of the band, who will likely be divided when it comes to the band’s latest offering. This should come as no surprise however, as this was a band almost put together at the bequest of the record label with specific intentions in mind. In the few years since the band released previous album The Flood way back in 2011, the band has undergone some hardship that include, though are not limited to, frequent departures and line up changes, the arrest of their frontman and a divisive situation regarding their future sound and direction. Aptly, when interview about the new record, frontman Austin Carlile said, “What happens after a disaster? What happens after The Flood? You return to normal. You find balance again. That’s what we felt like we were doing with this album. We wanted this record to bring equilibrium back to our band and music. We’re letting everyone know what we’re here to stay. We’re Restoring Force.

Fears of the band completely abandoning their trademark metalcore sound are quickly dismissed on Restoring Force‘s opening battle cry, the adrenaline infused “Public Service Announce.” This is as brutal as it gets and a sign that yes, this is still a metalcore band at heart regardless of what’s to come. With the likes of “Public Service Announcement,” the band proves that some of the material on this record is as heavy if not heavier than anything that has come before it. It doesn’t take long however, to showcase that some of the material on offer is among the softest, most melodic examples of the band’s song-writing to date. This is a new and fresh aspect of the band that is likely to draw in even more fans than they had before. This is nothing but a good thing. “Feels Like Forever” and “Another You” are amongst the most accessible material the band has produced. While a certain demographic of their fans will see this as a betrayal, the band ensure there’s plenty of heavy stuff on offer and as such Restoring Force does a great job of appealing to fans new and old alike. It’s a difficult balance but a balance they’ve managed to strike with some confidence.

In some instances the band manages to blend the two sounds within the same four minute track. Take “Bones Exposed” as an example. It’s perfectly meshes the bands metalcore routes with the new clean vocals of Aaron Pauley and it makes for a splendid treat of hard rock and melodic song-writing. The importance of Pauley on this record’s success can not be understated. Austin Carlile brings the goods as per usual with his own blend of harrowed screams and punchy battle-cries, but it has to work in unison with Pauley’s clean vocal and within the first couple of tracks the duo manage to strike up a chemistry most vocal duos would be envious of. “Bones Exposed” has the most anthemic chorus of the entire record and is definitely a standout. It showcases some of the band’s best song-writing to date, it’s fast-paced, it’s in your face but it has the right left of angst and the right level of melody to make it enjoyable for all. With this combination working as well as it does, Of Mice and Men create a record that is likely to generate as many FM radio plays as it does circle pits.

David Bendeth has to be given some credit for the record’s success. Bendeth is the band’s new producer following consecutive records with Joey Sturgis. Drummer Arteaga credit Bendeth with challenging the band “to try and step out of our comfort zone and try to write songs that we felt like gave us a different outlook on how to write songs and how to formulate and put things together.” The result is a sound that celebrates the band’s metalcore routes, embraces something all the more melodic and oddly pays tribute to turn-of-the-century nu-metal and in particular bands like Slipknot. While that may not sound appealing, it gives the band a unique sound that others in their genre aren’t producing and it is undoubtedly a sound that is produces great things. It’s the record’s closing tracks “You’re Not Alone” and “Space Enough to Grow” that best showcase Of Mice and Men’s promising new direction as well as their song-writing prowess and delivers a message that the band seems to have embraced in the writing of their new material: they’ve come through the struggles, the trials and tribulations and come out all the better for it. As Carlile screams in “You’re Not Alone,” “don’t let the world bring you down” and it’s surprising just how strong you can come out on the other side.

“You’re Not Alone” – Of Mice and Men

Track listing:
1. Public Service Announcement
2. Feels Like Forever
3. Bones Exposed
4. Would You Still Be There
5. Glass Hearts
6. Another You
7. Break Free
8. You Make Me Sick
9. Identity Disorder
10. You’re Not Alone
11. Space Enough to Grow