Of Mice & Men

Restoring Force

Written by: JWM on 22/01/2014 15:57:59

With The Devil Wears Prada going into breakdown rehab, Asking Alexandria crossing over into hard rock and glam influences and Bring Me The Horizon becoming an incredible cross between The Cure, Linkin Park and their own heavy style it raises the question; what on earth is happening to modern metalcore? And that question stretches to Of Mice & Men who from the re-release of their second album where they added new songs like "The Depths" have been taking nu-metal and alternative metal influences and incorporating them into breakdown-centric, anthemic metalcore. And this progression had taken time, with their records starting with the post-Attack Attack! blues of front-man Austin Carlile on the self-titled début album, and the promising but ultimately messy number two, "The Flood". They are now here with album number three "Restoring Force".

I don't think I've ever seen a front-man of an alternative band craft such a marketable image as Austin Carlile, and in recent years he seemingly is catching up to personalities as infamous as Oliver Sykes. And for that, Of Mice & Men deserve commemoration, as Carlile and co have done more than create just a metalcore band, but create a character people can love and hate, which perpetually fuels the band's popularity.

"Public Service Announcement" opens urgently as down-tuned guitars and low volume vocals provide an intense atmosphere for this tough-guy hardcore song to blossom. "Feels Like Forever" is up next, and features the debuting vocals of bassist and primary singer Aaron Pauley. His voice is very melodic, and fits into the same kind of style of singers from early-mid 2000s American emo bands like From First To Last, Senses Fail and Hawthorne Heights. And the lyrical content follows suit, ambiguously jabbing at themes to do with post-breakup feelings and hoping friendship remains in the wake. "Would You Still Be There" shows the band really reaching for a place on the Tony Hawk's soundtracks of yesteryear with this melodic alternative metal sound, akin to Papa Roach. "Glass Hearts" isn't even discrete about its obvious Korn influence, starting with the same noises their "Falling Away From You" starts with.

There is an immediate showing of progression from their last record in these songs. For instance, both vocalists have developed immensely, as use of auto-tune has shrunk significantly down to just minor pitch correction on Pauley's voice. The band's style has favoured those previously mentioned late 90s metal influences and patterned them to their style very well. This change of pace is good for the band, it stylistically offers something a little different and gives their sound a reason to belong in arenas rather than basements.

The album proves to have some variety, with the metallic anthem "Break Free", the Drowning Pool style of "You Make Me Sick" and the sorrowful loneliness of mid-album ballad "Another You". As the record comes towards its end we are graced with the powerful energy of the successful flagship single "You're Not Alone" which shows a great contrast between melody and chaos through the vocal and instrumental interplay. It finally closes with the tranquil, easy-listening of "Space Enough To Grow", providing a moment of peace before you play the record back again.

"Restoring Force" is a bit more instantly gripping than their previous work as the songs don't lose focus as fast as their earlier releases. I think nearly every song has a good guitar lick, a brain burning vocal hook and a mean attitude, but it's the soft vocals that give the record an anchoring sense of direction so it doesn't go too heavy. Although it definitely lacks the same conceptual and theatrical nature of Bring Me The Horizon's "Sempiternal", this album is an obvious influence on Of Mice And Men's record, (practically because some songs just sound like a cross between "House Of Wolves" and "Antivist"). Problematically, "Restoring Force" is too much of a product of it's influences and features too many moments when it reminds you of hardcored up alternative metal. But despite this, it is still the re-birth of a band that once was welded too tightly to their past.

Download: Would You Still Be There; You're Not Alone; Break Free; Feels Like Forever
For The Fans Of: Bring Me The Horizon; Papa Roach; Korn; Issues
Listen: Of Mice & Men's Facebook

Release Date 24.01.2014
Rise Records

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