REVIEW: Of Mice & Men – Restoring Force


Artist: Of Mice & Men
Album: Restoring Force
Genre: Hard Rock
Label: Rise

In the years since The Flood, metalcore outfit Of Mice & Men have been evolving. From member changes, to influence and musical direction, the band has been taking steps towards being something more than just another ‘heavy band’ with a strong following of dedicated Hot Topic shoppers for some time. This transition may have seemed subtle, but if you trace the band’s sound from their early demos to now its alarmingly evident that they have their eyes set on much higher level of rock glory, and they just might reach it with their newest release.

Restoring Force is both heavier and softer than anything else in the Of Mice & Men catalog, and the band does a fantastic job of transitioning between the two throughout. “Public Service Announcement” opens with a fitting reminder of how the band perfectly toes the line between heavy and anthemic, while “Feels Like Forever” follows with a sound decidedly geared towards fans of FM rock radio. This is not a complaint by any means, in fact it’s quite the opposite. At a time when the majority of ‘scene’ bands are desperately trying to find ways to be heavier or more technical, Of Mice & Men are flipping the script altogether and exploring new realms of rock while staying true to the heavy elements that serve as the cornerstones of the band’s foundation. “Bones Exposed” showcases this by perfectly pairing the sonic influences of “Public” and “Feels,” with just a dash of The Flood sprinkled on top.

Of Mice & Men are certainly not the first band to take their metal-leaning sound and add a hearty dose of alternative flair to the mix, but what sets Restoring Force apart is the consistent, quality sound that results from this sonic concoction. There are just as many tracks with pit-inducing potential as their are songs poised for large amounts of radio play. Some fall in the middle, such as the fantastic mid-album banger “Glass Hearts” or the promotional single “You’re Not Alone,” and it’s on those tracks Of Mice & Men truly take their sound to the next level. It’s decidedly in-line with everything the band has done prior, but its mixed with a vast array of outside influences that have allowed them to touch upon a place in the world of hard rock that few have explored. When the album ends you hunger for more, and I can think of no greater compliment one can pay a band.

There has been a resurgence of music reminiscent of the ‘nu-metal’ era that divided rock fans in the early-2000s. Of Mice & Men do take several cues from bands that rose to prominence during this time on Restoring Force (Slipknot comes to mind), but it’s never to an extent that makes the music feels dated. If anything, the influence from this era gives OMM an added edge that helps further separate the group from fellow hard rock contemporaries, especially when you consider the fact it’s positioned between songs with a much more radio-ready, alternative influence. Diversity is key.

The promotional run for Restoring Force featured a lot of talk about Of Mice & Men finding a ‘balance’ in their sound with this release. While I am not entirely sold on that being the case, I will say it is the most engaging record in their discography, and it features a number of fantastic surprises that will only serve to further the group’s career in 2014. If true, Of Mice & Men will be one of the few bands from the recent heavy era in alternative music to find life outside the Warped Tour scene, and in my opinion no one could be more deserving. Through lineup changes and the seemingly endless controversy that surrounds frontman Austin Carlile Of Mice & Men have forged ahead with a drive to succeed that is unmatched by their peers. They’ve channeled their struggles into songs that are as memorable as they are abrasive, and as it stands now they are the heavy band to beat in the new year.

Restoring Force raises the bar for heavy bands in alternative music and marks the beginning of a new chapter for Of Mice & Men. It’s without a doubt the best album of their career, not to mention the first great hard rock release of 2014, and I am hopeful it won’t be their last.

Score: 9/10
Written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Justin Cary

    Best album of their career? Does anyone actually think that?

  • utgjames

    I do.

  • forfrosne

    A rather gushing review. You appear to have nothing negative to say about the album.

  • Kriston McConnell

    I’ve only listened to ‘Restoring Force’ once so far, but I think it’s a great album. I’m a little bummed Shayley isn’t singing the cleans anymore but they still do an awesome job with the vocals.

  • utgjames

    Any album that involves this kind of change in sound is bound to have its fair share of growing pains, but for the most part ‘Restoring Force’ is issue free (in my opinion). My initial concerns slid to the back of my mind the more I listened, and I think the same will happen for any fan that gives the album more than a single play before casting judgment.

  • Matthew Gracie

    The nu-metal appeal is fine, but “Feels Like Forever” along with a lot of other tracks are kind of a nu-metal pastiche, and are musically not creative what so ever. Not a bad album at all, but the sound on a lot of occasions in Restoring Force shows very basic ideas taken from the early 2000’s sound. Honestly, it sounds like Papa Roach and Sempiternal had a child; a very lazy child.

  • utgjames

    It definitely takes a song or two to adjust, Kriston. I was always big on Jamie’s Elsewhere however, so the transition was fairly easy on me.

  • Brian Lion

    As someone who has never cared for this band, therefore has never delved deep into their sound, any kind of change isn’t going to affect me. A 9/10 for this seems immediately ridiculous but I’ll give it a fair listen and report back because if anything, your score has intrigued me,

  • Brian Lion

    So after listening through once then again through the more memorable tracks, for me, realistically it’d be like a 6.5/10, and that may be being a little generous. While initially upon the first few tracks, their sound has obviously changed and even matured, I was pleased to not be bombarded with their typical brand of scene/metalcore. I get the Slipknot, Mudvayne, and even Disturbed nu-metal resemblances but by the 4th or 5th tracks I was already bored as most of the songs started to blend together in a repetitive blur. Even with their style being somewhat different I still began to feel like I was listening to an incredibly trite metalcore release with a monotonous pattern of heavy breakdowns and clean choruses aplenty. There’s really nothing new or groundbreaking, and even as this MIGHT be a step forward for the band, they’re still just spinning their wheels within an incredibly tired genre. A 6.5 from me would be for decent production and competent (at best) songwriting that’s all slightly above other average, and boring, bands in the same scene. For the most part, I’ve heard this album hundreds of times and it never gets any more appealing.

    To me, giving this a 9/10 is discrediting a lot of truly great albums that deserve that near-perfect score and to think that if I were to give a 9/10 to say the new Manchester Orchestra this year or the next Tool album (if it ever develops), that those bands or releases would be as important or praiseworthy as OM&M is very disheartening to me haha.

    Regardless of my bullshit, though, it all comes down to preference in the end and maybe I’m just jealous that you got a lot more out of this than me. I wish I could say that I’ll give it more time to sink in but the truth is…

  • Tyler

    I back this.

  • Aaron Bowles

    I do. It’s got diversity and is still way hard.

  • Aaron Bowles

    You can never judge an album on the first listen. Or at least you shouldn’t. I for one love this album and like the direction they’re going.

  • Brandon E.

    Very average and cliche unfortunately.. Huge step down from previous work and we have far too many bands that sound exactly like this… Bummed because I like their older albums a lot

  • Brad Hook

    Absolutely. They’ve matured so much.

  • Hank

    I’m not trying to be rude. But I truly have to ask, I’ve read a million reviews nearly verbatim to yours and I never understand it. A metal album by a metal band is going to have metal songs. That’s a given. Then the complaint is always “This album has only metal songs. So repetitive” Even if they switch it up with softer songs, songs with aspects of different metal genres, etc. This is an album with (perhaps) the most diversity I’ve heard on a hard rock/metal album lately, especially for the metalcore genre and the complaint is still that it’s repetitive, and generic. Every critic, every time. Why? 6.5 is really low. I think the album deserves at least 7.5, at most an 8.5.

  • I feel like rise forced this musical change….This feels like “Sleeping With Sirents – Feel” all over again…. Is anyone with me on that?

  • Erik

    Definitely their best release yet wow.