Ohio metalcore group Miss May I released their fourth studio album called Rise of the Lion on April 29 via Rise Records. They worked with producer Terry Date who has worked with Pantera, Slipknot, Deftones, Dream Theatre, Soundgarden, Incubus and Bring Me The Horizon among other artists who are at the top of their game. Seeing his name attached with Miss May I is what got me listening to the album. And I have to admit that before listening to this record, I took them for another product of Rise Records, what with the label’s characteristically churned out music, toned down aggression, and formulaic song structures. However, exceptions always exist. Rise of the Lion quite agreeably possesses these attributes but still is very original.
On the first listen itself, you could tell that they’ve moved away from garden-variety metalcore and have refined their sound to a more unique and more metal one. They’ve experimented with and incorporated various elements and have used them within what the genre of metalcore would allow, sadly. Some straight up heavy metal, a couple of guitar solos and mellow parts are dispersed throughout the album. The result isn’t perfect but it shows us that these musicians have potential. The album caters to what old fans wanted, i.e. a very entertaining record and in all likelihood will garner a new fanbase as well.
Most of the songs are centred on riffs but I found that the choruses somewhat overpower the actual riffs themselves. Why does the chorus have to be forcefully catchy all the time? (Rise formula *sigh*). There is an enjoyable but predictable interplay between the throaty vocals of frontman Levi Benton and the warm, butter-coated cleans of Ryan Neff.
The album opener ‘Refuse To Believe’ is a favourite all over the internet but I somehow couldn’t connect with it. On the other hand, ‘Lunatik’ is a memorable track which talks about times when you just want to get away from all the burdens of life and is a total headbanger. The chorus in ‘Gone’ is very catchy and in Benton’s words, it’s about the “classic, good old heartbreak”. The lion is at his most majestic in ‘Tangled Tongues’, easily one of the best songs on the album. ‘Darker Days’ isn’t even metalcore, it borders on hardcore and thrash and entirely makes up for weaker tracks like ‘Echoes’. The song proves that Miss May I can rise above their contemporaries and actually thrive on the higher rungs in the metal world.
The guitar tone could have been heavier, the playing would have been more impactful then. Drums were kept simple yet tasteful. In fact, I wish the whole sound of the record was grittier. Miss May I have a long way to go but they’re surely headed in the right direction. Rise of the Lion is indeed a key album for their career.
The band has been in the news as of late due to a fan dying at one of their shows. You can read about it here. Our thoughts go out to Alberto and his loved ones.
8eight8 Rating – 7/10
– Quiet Boi