February 7, 2014 Of Mice & Men – Restoring Force (Album review)
Over the past few years, the hard rock band Of Mice & Men have been on the rise to fame by creating an iconic name for themselves. On their previous two albums, this Southern Californian band has rocked the music scene with their heavy breakdowns and melodic choruses filled with inspirational and relatable subjects. When beginning to make their third album, Of Mice & Men wanted to start something revolutionary and the transformation they produced became their newest release, Restoring Force. Straying away from the “scene band” label, Of Mice & Men demonstrate their growth and versatility on this album with their range of nu metal influences and hard rock vibes. Even so, the things that fans love about this band are still very present, setting a very high standard for up and coming rock albums in 2014.
While some were concerned of the drastic change that would occur with Restoring Force, many tracks have vast differences in style and sound, but there are familiar tracks that reel those fans back into the feeling of their first two albums. The track “Bones Exposed” has the band’s classic sound with screamer Austin Carlile’s intense grunts and screams keeping up with the fast, cyclic pace of the verses which are highlighted by the clean vocalist, Aaron Pauley’s harmonious voice in the chorus. Other song with similar elements is “Glass Hearts”, which has persisting guitar riffs and powerful crescendo into Pauley’s vocals, becoming a well-known metalcore method of song structure, but Of Mice & Men’s touching and applicable lyrics make it their own. The lyrics “These are the hardest four years of my life” can be used in any life situation, whether it be high school, college, the military, etc. The song continues to move listeners with the struggles dealing with hardships and then transcends into an uplifting message of holding onto hope.
After the successful re-release of The Flood in 2012, fans were expecting Restoring Force to include brutal and raging tracks that unveil the animalistic side of Of Mice & Men. To construct a track in this vain, the band went back to their nu metal roots, giving birth to “You Make Me Sick”. With forceful growls and a violent tone, this song is a key moment in Restoring Force. The strong and persisting Slipknot inspired instrumentals give a new ambiance to Of Mice & Men and lyrics like, “You serpent, you lying snake, you make me sick” set the ravenous tone that completes this hardcore power. The chugging guitar and scattered form build-up to Carlile’s insane 18-second scream becomes the songs peak, all in all ferociously delivering the bands heavy style.
Along with aggression, other musical experiments are exhibited throughout Restoring Force as well. An example of such is the completely different approach for the band on the track “Feels Like Forever”. The slow groove guitar pairs well with Carlile’s new and diverse vocals in the verses. His growling style dissolves into a clean tone, adding a haunting atmosphere to the track that is reinforced by the melodic and smooth chorus sung by Pauley. Another smooth rock and roll sound is executed on “Would You Still Be There”. The steady beat and compelling vocals build a catchy and rock radio style track highlighting the establishment of the band’s new sound. It is easy to tell that throughout their exploration in sound, Carlile and Pauley connected profoundly well during the writing and recording process. Their drive to reach bigger audiences shows their abilities to branch out and gather a wider and more diverse fan base.
The album ends with a stripped down track entitled “Space Enough To Grow”. Something that Of Mice & Men excel in is generating atmospheric and melodious ballads, shown on tracks such as “When You Can’t Sleep At Night” and “The Calm”. The serenity and flowing pace of “Space Enough To Grow” complements the captivation created by the lingering guitar and soothing vocals. The strength of the band is found deep inside the meaning of this song, as well. The penetrating message represents using life to your advantage and finding happiness within yourself, something the band has consistently preached since their start. The potent lines “Deep inside of all of us, there’s something left to hold / Even when we give up all hope, there’s space enough to grow” concludes the underlying theme of the entire album and summarizes the influential impact that Of Mice & Men yearn to leave on the world.
The variety on Restoring Force showcases the capabilities and true talent of this band. With the release of this album, Of Mice & Men have broken down the barrier of plateauing in the over-saturation of metalcore bands. This outreach to radios and the general public will put them in a completely different world of rock and roll which they have been ready for since their band’s formation. Restoring Force mixes their familiar sounds with a hard rock tone they have been waiting to produce, making new listeners open their eyes to completely fresh and fascinating music. This fully matured and improved record is a new beginning for Of Mice & Men. CrypticRock gives Restoring Force 4.5 out of 5 stars.Rise Records Review written by Emma Guido