With a breadth of recent memory metalcore acts aping the low swinging bounce of turn of the century nu metal, the spirit of the baggy trousered veterans has never been far away. That being said, the head turning aplomb with which scene stealers Of Mice & Men have embraced that nostalgic joy on third full-length effort, ‘Restoring Force’, is certain to split opinion amongst their rabid fanbase. Fortunately, the California quartet execute this slight departure with the confidence of a band fully aware of the quality of what they’re doing.
Coloured still with shades of the textbook metalcore that Of Mice & Men have made their bread and butter, ‘Restoring Force’ is a genuinely exciting and welcomely refreshing example of the importance of vision in a scene which can certainly lack creative scope. ‘Would You Be There’ is all Papa Roach hooks, whereas opener ‘Public Service Announcement’ is a three minute lesson in bloodthirsty breakdowns and heaving instrumentation. It is this constant ebb and flow between influences which sees the record such a seamless delight.
Indeed, ‘Break Free’ is an Linkin Park-eque angst ridden rap-rock number, ‘Identity Disorder’ and ‘Another You’ are all sweeping melodicisms and delicate atmospherics (special mention here must go to recent addition Aaron Pauly, who clean vocal performance is phenomenal not just on these tracks but throughout), and the filthy riff work out of ‘You Make Me Sick’ sounds tailor made for early noughties Slipknot.
There is without doubt a plethora of established Of Mice & Men for die-hards to digest. Breakdowns and colossal chorus refrains lurk around every corner, yet what sees ‘Restoring Force’ as such an across the board success is its ability to be both relevant and gripping by harking back to scene that to this day garners an equal amount of love and hate. As it is, what threatened to be a fatal mis-step for the band has resulted in not only the best work in the Of Mice & Men canon, but a record bound to send their legacy stratospheric.
Written by Tony Bliss