Album Review: Of Mice & Men – “Restoring Force: Full Circle”

Of Mice & Men
Restoring Force: Full Circle
(Rise Records)

Of Mice & Men’s third studio full-length, Restoring Force, was easily one of the best albums to come out in 2014. Now, just over a year after its release, OM&M have returned with Restoring Force: Full Circle, which is basically a reissue with four extra tracks. I can go on and on about the innovative bridge vocalists Austin Carlile and Aaron Pauley crossed when they found a successful way to make breakdowns and unclean vocals sound commercial with tracks like “Would You Still Be There” and “Identity Disorder,” but that holds true for the original Restoring Force just as much as this reissue. The real surprises are found within the unexpected bonus tracks from Full Circle.

The first single OM&M released was “Broken Generation,” which instantly halted all hope for that “heavier” sound Carlile had been teasing with their last reissue’s single “The Depths,” off of The Flood. Instead, Carlile pulled an Oli Sykes and suddenly learned how sing (somewhat well) for cleaner vocals while still upholding his signature scratchy snarl. “Broken Generation,” like the rest of Restoring Force, is catchy, beautifully layered between Pauley and Carlile’s vocals, and carries well as a new school stadium rock sound. The potential reference to Richard Hell & The Void Doids’ “Blank Generation” is also a cool throwback to the old days of early New York punk that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Whereas “Broken Generation” is a big feat for the band, it holds a sound that doesn’t translate as well to the other two new additions to Restoring Force. Both “Something To Hide” and “Never Giving Up” feel dated and out of place for the direction the current metalcore scene is heading. “Something To Hide” screams of ’90s alt rock guitar riffs and is so blatantly reminiscent of Hybrid Theory that it’s clear their touring spree with Linkin Park has greatly influenced OM&M’s recent writing style. “Never Giving Up” isn’t any more promising, though it takes more of the early 2000s emo sound mixed with an intro that would have fit perfectly on Avril Lavigne’s debut record. Clearly this reissue’s sound is little complicated.

New tracks aside, Of Mice & Men do hold surprises when it comes to the release of the acoustic version of “Feels Like Forever.” Though it’s a spectacular (and pretty heavy) track when plugged in, the toned down version might be even better. Carlile’s voice hasn’t quite grown enough to hit every money note, but the harmonies between him and the melodic soul that stems from Pauley’s voice could only be topped by the beautiful guitar bridge that holds a gorgeous and very unexpected Spanish twinge to it.

Restoring Force: Full Circle expands upon an already great album therefore giving Of Mice & Men room to experiment a little bit. Whereas some of the newer tracks fall a little short, the ones that hit the mark really knock it out of the park and help showcase the diversity and growth this band has gone through within the last year. (Natasha Van Duser)

Purchase Restoring Force: Full Circle here: Physical | iTunes | Amazon

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