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Of Mice & Men - Restoring Force Album Cover

Of Mice & Men - Restoring Force

Reviewed by
5.0
Of Mice & Men - Restoring Force
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: January 24, 2014
During the MySpace-era of scene music, Attack Attack! was the big deal. Their debut album Someday Came Suddenly was what all of my scenester friends were talking about. It blended synthesizers, auto tuned vocals, breakdowns, and of course, the uniquely shredding screams of frontman Austin Carlile. Equally praised and ridiculed, Attack Attack! polarized the metal scene with electronic influences and vaguely Christian lyrics. Not long after, Carlile was kicked out of the band and chose to begin Of Mice & Men. Of Mice & Men were the new kids on the block, and it was yet to be shown if they could usurp Attack Attack! in the scene.

Before long, they did – Of Mice & Men’s debut self-titled album purchased them a hold in the minds of many impressionable teenagers; Austin Carlile was back, and stronger than ever with his shrill screams. Of Mice & Men proceeded to tour extensively, ultimately releasing a second album, The Flood, which was darker and more mature than their first album. Truthfully, I wasn’t even a fan Of Mice & Men before The Flood, but after a start to finish listen, I began to enjoy the strong production by Joey Sturgis and aggression to the music, even without electronics. I went back to listen to their first album, and before long I was an actual fan.

Fast-forward to Shayley Bourget’s departure from the band to due depression and anxiety, and Of Mice & Men needed a new clean vocalist – Carlile’s vocals were becoming blown out, and someone had to help prop him up, after all. The beginning of his exhausted vocals were heard on Of Mice & Men’s deluxe reissue of The Flood which included 5 new tracks, 2 of which were entirely composed by Shayley Bourget before his departure. The other 3 are a gnarly, gritty breakdown-fest unfortunately coupled with Carlile’s weaker screams. Of Mice & Men made a well-informed decision and recruited Jamie’s Elsewhere frontman Aaron Pauley, a powerhouse of rapid screaming and passionate singing, to sing and play bass for them. Pauley was the true talent of Jamie’s Elsewhere, and Of Mice & Men saw that, snatching him up, putting Jamie’s Elsewhere on a hiatus. When I heard about Pauley joining Of Mice & Men, I was hesitant; Jamie’s Elsewhere’s album They Said A Storm Was Coming featured Pauley at his finest, and I predicted that his screaming talent might be unused, taking the backseat to Carlile in Of Mice & Men.

I was right, but I hadn’t considered that his singing would be worse as well. On Of Mice & Men’s newest release, Restoring Force, Aaron Pauley sounds lethargic and impassionate about the subject matter. In addition to this disuse of brimming talent, Austin Carlile’s vocals are even more blown out than before, barely being loud enough to warrant recognition. It’s really quite unfortunate considering how powerful his vocals were on the first two records. Even with both of these issues, Restoring Force manages to dig itself a deeper grave by being instrumentally boring and simple. The riffs are mind numbingly slow and safe, the drumming is painfully restrained by the slower tempos, and perhaps the worst part of all – the guitars sound like they were recorded through a potato. I don’t know if the band wanted their guitar tracks to sound muted and too loud at the same time, but.. they do.

Album opener "Public Service Announcement" missteps from the get-go; the low pass filter guitar intro is already fuzzy, and as Carlile’s vocals enter the mix, a part of me begins to cringe. He sounds weaker as the song drops into a chugging verse. "Public Service Announcement" sounds somewhat similar in song structure to the band’s older material, but the music is muted and things seem to blend together. Whoever decided the guitars and drums should exist in the same mid range of frequencies butchered a possibly decent song. Track two, "Feels Like Forever," features a simple guitar riff repeated as Carlile tries his hand at nu-metal vocal styles involving... aggressive talking? Part of me thinks he is tired of screaming. "Feels Like Forever" has a nice chorus with Pauley, but his role is diminished, and Carlile goes back to the nu-metal talking thing. The song is poorly mixed, but glimmers of musical hope include Aaron’s vocals and melodic guitar every few verses. The third track, "Bones Exposed," sounds like a take on Bring Me The Horizon’s "Antivist," but just more generic. Carlile’s vocals are once again unfortunately hard to listen to, and the song features lyrics about being inherently broken. I know the suburban kids who feel slighted will love to sing that chorus, but it just feels whiney for adult men to sing about.

Track four, "Would You Still Be Here," is possibly the best on the entire record, as Pauley opens the song and maintains his clarifying presence throughout the entire track. While still simple in songwriting, it is the most listenable of the album. The fifth song, "Glass Hearts," features an eerie keyboard intro with muted guitar riffs leading into a staccato, chugging verse. Carlile seems to be in a bad place emotionally, yelling that “These are the hardest four years of my life..” a perfect example of the ‘down on my luck’ attitude prevalent on the album. Aaron Pauley is featured on the song, but his parts are strange.

The sixth song, "Another You," is nice, as Pauley croons an introductory verse along mellow guitar chords, but as Carlile drops into the song I realize that Pauley is the only one carrying this record at all. "Another You" is a strong song, but better production could improve the accessibility and replay factor for fans. The seventh track, "Break Free," sounds like the first few songs of the album, and simple note patterns are used, making the song feel restricted. Number eight, "You Make Me Sick," begins with a dirty guitar riff, followed by that same riff for about a minute. Carlile’s attempts to lead the song are admirable, but he should consider another form of screaming if he wants to keep his voice. Track nine, "Identity Disorder," isn’t much compared to the rest of the album. It features breakdowns and clean vocals. While Aaron Pauley’s parts almost save the song, he still doesn’t sound as comfortable as he was in Jamie’s Elsewhere.

The penultimate track, "You’re Not Alone," was the band’s first single for the album. The song’s chorus is a bit melodramatic, as Pauley intones “Don’t let the world bring you down, there’s always hope for the willing, it’s not over - you’re not alone anymore,” sounding like the writing of a 14 year old scene kid in his first band. The final track, "Space Enough To Grow," is possibly the best on the record; it is a somewhat melodic and ambient song featuring Pauley quietly singing to the listener with clean guitar melodies. It showcases slight programming and dark undertones, but is still calming.

Overall, Restoring Force is unfortunately the opposite of what its title might imply; it is decent at some points, but is also simple and restricted. It is possible that the departure of Shayley Bourget meant less intricate instrumentation and fluidity of songwriting, as he was a guitarist and singer.

While some may say the album’s backlash is a fear of change, this is not the problem. The dilemma is that Of Mice & Men put out an uninteresting album. As fans of music in a scene where authenticity and expressive depth are valued, we must be unafraid to acknowledge when something lacks creativity, even when thousands of scene girls rave about how good it is (and of course, how cute Austin Carlile and everyone in the band is, because that matters).

Recommended If You Like Post Hardcore

https://facebook.com/OfMice
This review is a user submitted review from SpencerCoronado. You can see all of SpencerCoronado's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 11 of 11
10:48 PM on 05/21/14
#2
the seventeenth
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"Before long, they did – Of Mice & Men’s debut self-titled album purchased them a hold in the minds of many impressionable teenagers"

Love this line (and many others). Good review, bad album. At least we have Dayshell.
05:49 AM on 05/22/14
#3
ThereWeWere
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Solid review. I don't think the production on this album is horrible though. Some of of the songs grow on you over time that's for sure
06:17 AM on 05/22/14
#4
caraballo
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I liked the album a good amount, but It was also clear to me that Aaron carried the band on this one. Which was odd for me because I've always been a fan of "heavy" OMAM tracks. It's just the ones on this album were too boring
08:09 AM on 05/22/14
#5
Niko John
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I liked the album a good amount, but It was also clear to me that Aaron carried the band on this one. Which was odd for me because I've always been a fan of "heavy" OMAM tracks. It's just the ones on this album were too boring
I think the opposite. I thought Austin's heavier moments were the album's saving grace and that Aaron didn't have much to do and was only good at best.
08:52 AM on 05/22/14
#6
lovemetal24
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album rules
09:05 AM on 05/22/14
#7
lovemetal24
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production a 3? GTFOH
12:12 PM on 05/22/14
#8
lovemetal24
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lovemetal24, I too love metal 24 times. What a coincidence!

I think if you listen to earlier releases by the band and compare to Restoring Force, you'll notice high levels of clipping and muddied mid range instruments.

All the best!
-Spencer
you're obviously in need of attention….so here you go!……..your resume must be as extensive as david bendeth's!
12:14 AM on 05/23/14
#9
Raj
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you're obviously in need of attention….so here you go!……..your resume must be as extensive as david bendeth's!
You're obviously a raging monkey rapist...so here you go!
03:27 AM on 05/23/14
gatoraid666
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You're obviously a raging monkey rapist...so here you go!
Just do each other in the butt. You'll both be fine after.
05:26 PM on 05/23/14
AquaMan
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MY NAME IS SPENCER TOO! YEAH MAN!
Great review!! I agree with pretty much everything here, except Space Enough to Grow draaaags on for me.
Honestly, I had a feeling this album would be subpar to previous releases when I heard You're Not Alone. I feel like this album is more of a "gym music" or "highway music" album than anything else.

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