Californian bred quintet Of Mice & Men have quickly established themselves as a massive presence in the modern heavy music scene, picking up momentum and respect with each album. Their newest album Restoring Force becomes the third full-length from the boys, following their self-titled debut of 2010 and 2011’s hugely successful record The Flood.
According to front-man Austin Carlile, the new album is about finding balance and stability, asking “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 that we’re here to stay. We’re Restoring Force”.
The record is confident and energetic, creating an emphatic start to the New Year and setting the bar high for heavy music. It is refreshing and brilliant in the way the band have struck a balance between aggressive and clean melodies, vocals and lyrics. The trademark juxtaposition of uplifting and optimistic messages with heavy, aggressive sounding music features heavily as Of Mice & Men uphold their reputation of being one of the more encouraging and positive bands going around at the moment.
Restoring Force is the first album with new bassist and clean vocalist Aaron Pauley, who slots in seamlessly with the rest of the group and complements Austin Carlile’s lead vocals perfectly. The first taste of Pauley’s inclusion to the band came through You’re Not Alone, the energetic and encouraging first single released towards the end of last year.
The first track is in the form of a powerful, heavy and fast paced number by the name of Public Service Announcement, setting the tone for an energetic and aggressive record which is continued by the slower but equally as energetic Feels Like Forever. The guitar riffs complement the rhythm of the tracks and the clean vocals provide a break from the heaviness of Carlile’s leads which make the songs easier to listen to.
One of the album’s high points is Would You Still Be There, an explosive and upbeat track which features the perfect blend of Carlile’s and Pauley’s vocals against a heavy and rhythmic instrumental background. This one is highly catchy and energetic not unlike the lead single You’re Not Alone.
After Glass Hearts, the tone of the album changes as Another You begins softly and slowly before exploding into the chorus and returning to a simmer during the verses. To make up for the softness of Another You, Break Free comes out swinging and full of venomous energy as Carlile yells “You’re just another enemy/Right now/Get away from me/You won’t get the best of me”.
The energy is high for the remainder of the album before the record winds down with the slow and beautiful vocal performance in Space Enough To Grow. The instruments are subdued and gentle, being careful not to overshadow the vocals which strike a resemblance to the calm and soothing voice of Dallas Green.
After hearing You’re Not Alone, I claimed that Restoring Force could be one of the year’s best albums and after listening to it I stand by that claim wholeheartedly. It is melodic, heavy, meaningful, balanced and generally wonderful. Restoring Force is a pleasure to listen to and makes a huge statement about the band’s current position and future as one of heavy music’s leading names.