Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Miss May I Tread Familiar Ground On New Album

Ohio’s Miss May I have been a favorite of the metalcore genre since their 2009 debut Apologies Are for the Weak. After touring with such heavy weights as The Devil Wears Prada and a run on the Vans Warped Tour, Miss May I have moved closer to the forefront of the genre. With all that being said, the impending release of their newest album At Heart had the eyes of many on this band. Would this new album propel them over so many copy cat bands and to the front of the pack? Well, let’s look at the new album and see what it has to offer.

Vocalist Levi Benton and the boys start off with a short instrumental that also doubles as the title track, but track two is where we really want to turn up the volume. The song is called “Hey Mister” and it’s the lead-off single. By now, I am sure many are familiar with it. There’s a pretty good riff that weaves it way throughout the song, buzzing along and weaving in and out. The chorus features a mix of clean vocals, provided again by bassist Ryan Neff, and Levi’s screams. It’s not a bad choice for a lead-off single and it’s worthy enough of getting the listener’s attention.

“Opening Wounds”, in my opinion, is a stronger overall song both musically and lyrically. I think this song would be an excellent choice as the album’s second single. “Ballad of a Broken Man” is also a good track with some nice riffs and a good hook and it kicks some pretty major ass. Don’t worry; there are definitely plenty of breakdowns on the album for all of those who haven’t grown tired of them.

The rest of the album will certainly appeal to the die-hards of the band and maybe even some of the non die-hards because it sounds a lot like what they have been doing. I don’t mean that to come across as a slam, but you are getting what you expect from these guys and to some fans, that’s a good thing. I just don’t think that they have broken any new ground on this new album. They haven’t raised the bar, yet they haven’t lowered it either.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s a bad album, yet it’s not an amazing album either. Levi’s vocals are pretty consistent with what he has been doing, but in a genre that is becoming almost over-saturated, you have to stand out and not just blend in. He’s solid in his delivery and he is good at what he does, but on a lot of songs there was nothing there that made me go “Wow!”  As for the rest of the band, they put in a solid performance. Lead guitarist Justin Aufdemkampe is really good and he really did shine on several tracks, as did rhythm guitarist B.J. Stead. The rhythm section of Jerob Boyd on drums and Ryan Neff on bass are as solid as they come and they definitely can hold a song together when it may falter in other areas.
I guess I was just looking for more originality, something to make these talented guys stand out from the sea of similar bands. I’m not sure if the changing of producers from Joey Sturgis to Machine was the right thing to do. If these guys are going to want to run the marathon and not just sprint, then they need to stand out in some way from these other bands. The talent is there and maybe they just need to find their metal core Yoda to guide them to that next level

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