Monday, 11 June 2012

Review: Miss May I - At Heart

 Since the release of last year's Monument, Ohio metallers Miss May I have found themselves figureheads in the scene of the new American melodic metalcore revolution, alongside the likes of We Came as Romans, Memphis May Fire, For the Fallen Dreams and many many more. Oh god, so many more. And as a less sophisticated lover of all things that go chug in the night, I've had lots of love for this musical scene but not even I can deny the amount of repetitiveness that is played and celebrated and on Monument such a repetitiveness was pleasant, yet it was still loved by fans with more of an ability to go out to gigs for the way that the force of the music translates live, with Relentless Chaos becoming something of a modern mosh-pit filler. Basically, the playing of a repetitive metalcore has done something good for them.

 And the fact that playing repetitively is a point of major criticism and a suggestion that a lack of innovation exists is a shame because this method is so firmly stuck to on their third release At Heart and yet it's still a brilliant listen. It's by far the most exciting piece of work they've released and one of the most exciting and exhilarating releases from this wave of melodic metalcore bands (New wave of American melodic metalcore NWOAMM?? Let's see if I can start a label.) but the repetitiveness issue still exists. In some sense, it's not really a problem since they do it so well, that throughout the album's tenure, it's hard to think of any other music you'd want.

 Every ground-shaking range of breakdowns and machine-gun riffing from Justin Aufdemkampe and B.J. Stead force a pulse of energy and adrenaline into the banging heads of all listeners, as performances in Hey Mister, Sirens Song and Gold to Rust manage to be genuinely brutal and forceful and really emphasize the band's desire to conquest and show metalheads what they're made of and the stellar production from Machine, a producer that's also been known for working with the likes of Lamb of God and Rob Zombie only manages to give the axe-work an extra steely touch and atmospheric coldness when needed.

 In terms of songwriting, it's fair to say that the band do venture beyond the metalcore standard at times. Bleeding Out is injected with a venomous thrash influence to accompany the breakdowns while a much more solid and teeming-with-hooks charge of more traditional heavy metal can be found on Day By Day, which shows a demand to put on a more adrenaline charged performance and show a greater influence from In Flames at the same time.

 With their tones of total sincerity and ability to totally absorb the attention of listeners and heighten the potency of the simple-yet-impacting lyrical messages, the dual vocals of Levi Benton and bassist Ryan Neff are also vital in immersing the hearts and minds of all listeners as Benton's crushing screams and Neff's soaring melodies on Second to No One and Found Our Way are vital in making the album a dreamier more charming affair.

 All of this makes the album an amazing listen and if you have been a fan of Miss May I or various other bands of the NWOAMM (Start using the term.) you're definitely in for a treat especially if they are touring any time soon. Which is only really relevant for lucky Americans going to the Van's Warped Tour. But, ultimately, it's just another collection of normal chug-heavy metalcore songs. They do nothing to reinvent the wheel and with the emphasis on hooks that they have, it becomes very predictable to work out when there's going to be a massive drop of bass.

 But, as I've said before, a band that can take a genre, use it throughout an album and keep it fresh throughout is definitely a band that shouldn't be denied of a sense of relevance. And this is what makes At Heart such an overall accomplished piece of work that really justifies Miss May I's high position in the NWOAMM. it's nothing new, but it definitely shows this scene is worth holding onto.

 Miss May I's At Heart is out now via Rise Records.

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