Metalcore giants Of Mice & Men released its latest album, “Restoring Force,” Jan. 28. The world of hard rock was highly anticipating this release, as the band’s previous two albums have been phenomenal. In the years between 2011’s “The Flood” and this album, the band has undergone a vicious touring cycle and the significant loss of Shayley Bourget on bass and clean vocals. Aaron Pauley, formerly of Jamie’s Elsewhere, filled Bourget’s spot in the group. How have touring and a new lineup left the titans of metalcore and its new album? In short, the band has not gone anywhere, and the new album is unbearably good.
“Restoring Force” starts off with a bang with “Public Service Announcement,” arguably the heaviest song the band has ever written. Singer Austin Carlile’s lyrics in this song are in your face, talking about how everyone is getting too involved in the lives of others and not minding their own business once in a while. The follow-up song “Feels Like Forever” returns to the old Of Mice & Men style, with screaming in the verses, clean vocals in the chorus and strong lyrics.
The first standout song of the album comes in the number four spot: “Would You Still Be There,” a punchy hard rock song. The main riff of this song is one of the catchiest the band has ever written. It also pushes the group’s style with nearly the entire song sung by clean vocalist Pauley. The next two songs, “Glass Hearts” and “Another You,” are without a doubt the best two on the album. “Glass Hearts” is arranged in an extraordinary way. There are layers of singing and screaming, minor tones for the vocals that contrast nicely with the steady notes of the guitars as well as breaks from traditional songwriting. For example, the second chorus is cut short, breaking right into the bridge, and there is no final chorus. It is beautifully different. “Another You” is possibly the most heartfelt song yet this year.
It is a reflection on the passing of a loved one and an inability to accept the death. The final song on the album, “Space Enough to Grow,” is a beautiful ballad. It is a different yet satisfying way to end an album, though it is not as emotionally charged as “Another You.”
The album is not without its pitfalls, however. It is musically very consistent, but the lyrical content makes this more a collection of songs than an album. When I listen to an album front to back, I look for close ties between the songs; these come together very loosely in this album. Each of these songs could be singles. A good amount of the album is written in too similar a style as well, which will tire certain listeners by the end. The advantage of that, though, is that if listeners like one song, they will likely enjoy them all.
Of Mice & Men returned triumphantly with its best album to date, earning an 8.5/10 from me. If you are on the fence, listen to “Would You Still Be There,” “Glass Hearts” and “Another You.” Those songs exemplify the heart of the album for any listener and, indeed, the essence of the band. After a few tumultuous years and the significant loss of a vocalist, the force of the band has certainly been restored.
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