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ALBUM: Of Mice & Men – ‘Restoring Force: Full Circle’
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ALBUM: Of Mice & Men – ‘Restoring Force: Full Circle’

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There’s nothing like a reissue to justify promotion of an album long after its rightful life span. In an age in which touring and not sales bring in the bulk of income for musicians it’s a wonder more don’t do it.

Of Mice & Men in particular seem to have picked up on this, both their last two albums having now received the reissue treatment. The additional EP tacked onto ‘The Flood’ if anything consists of the strongest material in their back catalog, including (ironically enough) the brilliant title track and in particular Slipknot-channeling beastie “The Depths”. Attempting to repeat the trick, Restoring Force: Full Circle brings with it a trio of new tunes, along with an enjoyable if perfunctory acoustic version of ‘”Feels Like Forever”. In a similar way to how the extension of The Flood further emphasized the heavier nature of that album, Full Circle’s new inclusions delve further into the mainstream rock territory that its parent album brought to the table.

Comparisons to Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace et al will only get louder from here, as these new songs are further from metalcore than anything OM&M have put their name to previously. Of the three, “Something to Hide” is probably the strongest, showcasing Austin Carlile’s new-found talent for clean vocals effectively. It also feels natural in a way single “Broken Generation” doesn’t, which suffers from sounding too perfectly constructed for radio play and a hammy lyric. Somewhere between the two lies “Never Giving Up”, nu-metal verses and a yearning chorus matching together well but resulting in a song that’s good rather than great. Together the three work better as a complimentary addition to Restoring Force than they do independently, and indeed it would have been interesting to see the band attempt to integrate it into the track listing itself rather than in a bonus capacity.

Of course the new additions only represent a little more than a quarter of Full Circle, so what does the original Restoring Force feel like just over a year on? If anything hindsight has most benefitted those elements that were a greater departure from previous material, the huge hooks and dynamics of “Feels Like Forever” and “Would You Still Be There” eclipsing the more homogenous (for Of Mice & Men at least) “Public Service Announcement” and “Break Free”. Aaron Pauley’s clean vocals may not be as distinctive as his predecessors but he sure can belt out a hook, and the guitar work is easily more interesting than on The Flood. Restoring Force is at its strongest in its darkest moments – the menacing “Glass Hearts”, mid-album anchor “Another You” and real grower track “Identity Disorder”. Though aside from that the first half of the album is a clear step above the second (“Space Enough to Grow” will never be a match for “When You Can’t Sleep at Night”) it’s probably the most consistent Of Mice & Men album when taken altogether.

The Full Circle edition of the album probably doesn’t take that title, as its additional tracks aren’t quite up to scratch with the best of the original version, but it is a perfectly enjoyable product in its own right. If nothing else it shows that Of Mice & Men won’t be compromising their new-found commercial viability for the sake of public opinion, and makes the question of where they’ll go next that much more intriguing. Restoring Force: Full Circle isn’t the best extended version of an album they’ve done, but it is a valuable and worthwhile addition to their catalog – and if you’ve already got the original, you can save a few quid and just download “Something to Hide” and ‘”Never Giving Up”.

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