I've become an expert now after days of blocking out fan bases that are overwhelming (sometimes not in the flattering way), but I do my best to refrain from judging a band too quickly. With that being said, I was handed the new release from the hyped metalcore band Of Mice & Men, Restoring Force. While I haven't been too keen on this band, I did enjoy The Flood, and I will have to say this is Of Mice & Men's best work to date; in fact, to my surprise, this album was somewhat a breath of fresh air.
Of Mice & Men has left its metalcore elements in the background and evolved into this nu-metal revival group. It's a risky move nowadays for bands, but Of Mice & Men pull it off suprisingly well. The album still has lots of post-hardcore/metalcore elements throughout its 38-minute playtime, but the alt/nu-metal roots blossom overall. Restoring Force flows decently and I truly only came across a few nags upon listening.
Austin Carlile's vocals haven't improved that much, but they're still decent and, at times, they're impressive, but the true highlight is ex-Jamie's Elsewhere's Aaron Pauley on clean vocals/bass; the guy can really sing, and I honestly mean that. The lyrics can be somewhat on the cheesy side, but there are songs that have a great message, like "Another You" and "Bones Exposed." The music's message is still overshadowed by its teen-angst – which you can take either in a bad or good way.
Instrumentally, the album isn't over the top and fits the style and message well – whether it be the subtle alternative rock ballad-y "Another You," the catchy hard rock ladden "Would You Still Be There," the aggressive nu-metal throwback of "Feels Like Forever" or the metalcore sluggers "You Make Me Sick" and "Public Service Announcement." This album is quite diverse for the lane the band is thrown in because of the people who adore the band and those who hate the band because of the fans. In another words, the struggle is real.
Another highlight is that the band doesn't rely too much on breakdowns to sound heavy. Of Mice & Men achieves this with nu-metal riffage and present bass that is once again played excellently. The drums are where you want them, but I felt that drummer Valentino Arteaga could have explored the musical space – maybe some more cowbell would have been killer. Phil Manansala and Alan Ashby really create some infectious grooves and catchy melodies with their solid guitar work. Carlile does step out of his comfort zone vocally on this album, which can be hit or miss from time to time. His aggressive stature on the re-release of The Flood on songs like "The Depths" are absent from Restoring Force, but he still does his job well. This is an album people are going to love or hate; the true opinion is up to the listener, but this is definetly a great way to kick off 2014.
For fans of Mudvayne, Bring Me the Horizon, Stone Sour