REVIEW: MISS MAY I – “Shadows Inside”
USA metalcore titans Miss May I are going bigger than ever before on their sixth studio outing and first on new label Sharptone Records, ‘Shadows Inside’. Since 2014’s transitional ‘Rise of The Lion’, the band have begun releasing consistently huge metal anthems for a younger generations and even gaining the attention of older purebred headbangers. Who’s going to dig ‘Shadows Inside’ most between the two of them?
The greatest compliment to Miss May I that can be given is that their goal to be a great metalcore band is a successful achievement. Given that their influences are the likes of early 2000’s American New Wave of Heavy Metal bands, there’s a potential to reach fans of that movement who are now approaching their late twenties or early thirties. A blend of nostalgic and timely dynamics are the focus this time around. Be it an In Flames-esque classical clean guitar intro for “My Destruction” or some post-rock inspired atmosphere in album highlight “Crawl”, these Ohio shredders are still showcasing some new tricks this late in their career. A compliment to the arrangement is that every song absolutely ends up being a massive anthem destined to make crowds sing loud and proud. “Under Fire” and “Swallow Your Teeth” are perfect examples of this, each with catchy gang-shouted portions and mile-high choruses.
The blend of melody and chugging rhythms is nothing new, but Miss May I walk the line more than adequately enough to keep your stay with their music interesting. In this case, we have received ten songs that have distinct enough ideas to make for a cohesive yet diverse record. The difference between this record and past records from the band is that this album doesn’t kick into second gear nearly as often, exchanging constant adrenaline for over-the-top catchiness, brutality for unbridled emotion and thrashing rhythms for soaring melodies; a balance Killswitch Engage would approve of. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some great bursts of energy – the opening title track is undoubtedly meant to erupt circle pits. A more diverse record with varying ideas is totally welcomed. ‘Shadows Inside’ is 110% Miss May I’s most enjoyable record and because of that, spins of it will be frequent.
The evolution of Miss May I is undeniable at this point. Vocalists Levi Benton and Ryan Neff have such a fantastic chemistry in every song, never opting for strictly simple verse-chorus exchanges. It’s refreshing to hear Neff nab the spotlight in “Never Let Me Stay”, getting most of the song to himself. Of course, for a metalcore band with melody as the focus, there would be no gas in the tank if there weren’t competent guitarists. BJ Stead and Justin Aufedekampe know their source material well, and while they aren’t completely original, they’re reliable at churning out huge melodic riffs. On this record, they get more guitar solos and harmonies than before – a metalcore fan’s dream. My only gripe with Miss May I is that their rhythm section could be a tad more interesting. More moments for drummer Jerod Boyd such as the slanted chorus in “Under Fire” could liven things up a bit more. Jerod’s talents are vast, and having him play strictly in a pocket feels limiting. Regardless, he fits perfectly with the accessible nature of the current Miss May I.
Metalcore fans rejoice! What we have here is a record from a band who have helped keep the genre alive WITHOUT selling out or adopting gimmicky tropes. ‘Shadows Inside’ is a record Miss May I‘s fans will adore because, to them, it will evoke a feeling of being right at home with their favorite band. Best of all, the musicians themselves continue to pour every emotion and thought into their solid brand of a genre considered stale by many at this point. If there is a torch to bear in the next generation, we’re witnessing one of the current giants to currently hold it. And they aren’t letting go anytime soon.