Breaking the shackles of being labelled as a ‘flavour of the month’ band that has so often been a thorn metalcore’s side, American metalcore mob MISS MAY I have retained the same lineup since their formation and refined their sound to endure in a scene that can be so unforgiving for bands that are breaking through. Now in their tenth year, a milestone in itself, the band are back with album number six; Shadows Inside. But does this latest offering from MISS MAY I retain the same energy and intensity to keep the band at the epicentre of metalcore?
The record begins with the title track and instantly it becomes clear that MISS MAY I have a point to prove as the title track is both soaring and emphatic. The dual guitar work from B.J. Stead and Justin Aufdemkampe is frantic and packs a meaty punch whilst Levi Benton‘s powerful vocal barks add weight to an already impressive wall of sound. The highlight, however, is the chorus as Ryan Neff‘s soaring clean vocals wash easily over the listener. The track is an instant highlight for the record.
For such a strong opening, the anticipation for what follows is ever so higher and for the most part, MISS MAY I deliver. Under Fire boasts some slick lead guitar trickery from B.J. Stead and the thumping percussion from Jerod Boyd on the drums adds force to the punch of the track whilst Casualties echoes back to the greats within the scene through intricate riffing and thunderous lead vocal lines from Levi Benton. Retaining the same lineup has worked well in MISS MAY I‘s favour as Shadows Inside showcases a band who resemble an efficient machine through each member of the quintet delivering in their respective department to bring a solid and concise listening experience.
Whilst Shadows Inside largely ticks all the right boxes it is not without it’s shortcomings. Weighing in at just over 30 minutes, the record is a concise and neat package of metalcore but there are moments that drag and become mundane. For example, Crawl, which presents itself as a ballad-esque track, lacks enough bite in it’s verses which quickly become forgettable and despite a solid chorus, the track feels flat when compared to the album’s strongest moments. Similarly, My Destruction‘s mid tempo pace instantly disrupts the momentum built through the record’s opening and plods along which is disappointing, especially given how strong Shadows Inside opens.
Whilst there are moments that are forgettable and mundane, Shadows Inside‘s final third ends with a triumph. Death Knows My Name boasts a strong vocal partnership between Benton‘s growls and Neff‘s razor sharp cleans, Lost In The Grey is a whirlwind experience through a barrage of twin guitar work and thunderous drumming and My Sorrows ends the record in an emphatic high through an emotionally draining experience where the hooks truly sink deep.
By this point in their career, it’s clear that MISS MAY I know their sound and have refined it to present another solid slab of their brand of metalcore. Whilst Shadows Inside falters and falls short in areas, that does not detract from the record’s strongest moments. Those moments are where Shadows Inside truly shine, moments which showcase the maturity and professionalism of MISS MAY I. Whilst there is room for improvement, Shadows Inside will instantly appeal to prior fans of the band and for those who yearn for a band ticking all the boxes of the metalcore style.
Shadows Inside is out now via SharpTone Records.
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