Miss May I Hit Their Stride On ‘Deathless’
Five albums in is a fairly accomplished stage for any metal band to find themselves at, but for Ohio quintet Miss May I to have reached this position in only eight years is a serious testament to their hard work and dedication to their craft.
Though their pace of output and significant growth in profile is commendable, the quality hasn’t necessarily been too consistent with 2014’s Rise of the Lion feeling like a weak link at a crucial point of their career. If the lukewarm reaction to record #4 motivated the band to record a follow up quickly, then newest release Deathless is worthy of every shade of redemption you can give them.
As opener I.H.E builds into fiery pummelings of thrashing grooves, it becomes clear that we’re hearing MMI’s most confident effort to date. It picks up the best elements from 'Lion' and 2012’s 'At Heart' and interjects them with the uncompromising heaviness of their first releases 'Apologies Are For the Weak' and 'Monument', with a clean cut production, which makes every chugging riff by Justin Aufdemkampe sound extra crushing.
A striking feature of the album is the vocal interplay between frontman Levi Benton and bassist Ryan Neff, which has always been part of MMI’s music, but here, particularly on the album’s title track, the chemistry between the pair feels ionic, as Neff’s clean vocals in chorus’ feel rawer and more dimensional and add more emotional value to the choruses rather than simply having a section for fans to sing along to.
Backing these vocals are some of the tightest grooves and most boisterous breakdowns the group have ever produced. Tracks like "Arise" and "The Artificial" have the wall-of-death causing potential that could finally move them from Warped Tour to Wacken. And while numerous riffs could be accused of sounding derivative of Killswitch Engage or Unearth, they’re played with such obvious passion, that suggesting them of laziness is needlessly cynical.
All round 'Deathless' feels like a significant improvement for Miss May I. Much of the group’s performance just seems to have become tighter and and makes for a rewarding listen, particularly for fans that have been listening to all their albums up to now. And while heavier and more vicious, it still has an accessibility that could easily get inexperienced fans into the heavier side of music.
After a constant output and notable profile that the band has experienced over, they’ve released an album that confirms their reputation of the glue of modern metalcore, bridging the titans of the genre from newer artists with a hunger to have their music heard and moshed to. And it’s hit us now, eight years in the making.
To find out more about Miss May I, click here.
Words by Andy Davidson.