Founded by original Attack Attack! vocalist Austin Carlile and bassist Jaxin Hall in 2009, Costa Mesa, California’s Of Mice & Men seemed set to make their biggest steps as a band yet, five years on from their formation, following the introduction of bassist and clean vocalist Aaron Pauley. Tipped to be amongst metal’s ones to watch of 2014, the band have called their third album ‘Restoring Force’, in reference to the aftermath of 2012 album ‘The Flood’. From the title alone, you can tell that this is going to be an exciting moment for followers of the band.
It’s unfortunate, then, that ‘Public Service Announcement’ gets the album off to a rather unexciting start. But when it picks up, on second track ‘Feels Like Forever’, the combination of Tool-influenced verses and the kind of big choruses that drew former Paramore producer David Bendeth to get involved in the album showing us that Of Mice & Men are onto a winner. Their previous metalcore sound is not abandoned, but throughout ‘Restoring Force’, they seem to have their eye on rock’s mainstream more than ever before, thanks to the clear production of Bendeth and noticeable hints of fellow Californians Linkin Park; the chorus to ‘You Make Me Sick’ sounding more like the first two Linkin Park albums than Linkin Park themselves have done in over a decade.
Of Mice & Men show their multi-dimensional sound on the loud/soft dynamics of ‘Another You’ and ‘Identity Disorder’, the positive end note of ‘Space Enough To Grow’ being a breather in a similar tone to ‘When You Can’t Sleep At Night’ that ended ‘The Flood’, but with a greater sense of consistency with the rest of the album than the previous album closer. Earlier offerings showed Of Mice & Men writing some strong material, but ‘Restoring Force’ is the sound of them creating a more fully realised identity of their own. It recalls the nu metal era at the same time as combining it with more modern mainstream rock sensibilities, making sure that it never comes across as overly nostalgic.
Overall, this is an album with both the memorable songs and the crossover potential to promise one of heavy rock’s most exciting offerings from the early part of this year. ‘Hybrid Theory‘ gave Linkin Park the highest-selling debut album of the 21st century. It will be interesting to see how far ‘Restoring Force’ gets Of Mice & Men.