2017 would not only mark ten years together for American metalcore outfit MISS MAY I, it also heralded the arrival of album number six (and Sharptone Records debut) Shadows Inside. Referring to it as their “most honest record” to date and harnessing equal parts melodic ambience alongside rabid ferocity, it showcased a band still capable of breathing new life into an over-saturated genre. And as night three of the UK leg of MISS MAY I‘s We Are Stronger Than Before tour rolls into town, this rapidly swelling crowd are expecting similar levels of sonic strength to be displayed tonight.
With a potent blend of thundering grooves and polyrhythmic intricacies, it’s impossible not to be floored by Connecticut djentlemen CURRENTS who quickly affirm their worth as one of the scene’s brightest prospects. This may be their Birmingham debut, but the band exude an easy confidence as they hit the stage amidst a piercing cacophony of appreciative applause. Frontman Brian Wille is engaging from the offset but lets the onlookers have it as the five-piece proceed to unleash the fury. His scathing cry of “You’ll never sleep again!” is the jump-off point to tear through a set comprised of material from current and beautifully bleak release The Place I Feel Safest with zero breaks in its driving momentum. Songs like Withered and Delusion highlight the crushing power of Wille’s ferocious roars whilst Tremor’s impressive fretwork and the immersive euphoria of the title track’s chorus make for an atmospheric attack upon the senses.
It’s a tough act to follow but VOID OF VISION don’t just step up to the proverbial plate – instead the Aussie metalcore mavens take it and smash it into a million pieces. Taut, driving riffs and pummelling breakdowns permeate the core of single Ghost In The Machine, which in reality is more akin to a brutal slice of classic hardcore than anything else. Rumbling pits begin to open upon the barked instruction of “let’s make this fuckin special!” and as Jack Bergin stalks back and forth, he appears to be purging every trapped emotion lurking within. Spite positively seethes with dripping vitriol; an aggressive confrontation that presents itself in musical form and slaps you relentlessly around the face for ninety ear-rattling seconds. That said, there are subtle dynamic shifts during the set where the emphasis focuses more on melody – huge cleans and pleading vocal refrains creep into the end of Sunrise and mark a brief departure from the unbridled intensity of closer Nightmare.
Ryan Kirby is entertaining the masses even before FIT FOR A KING appear courtesy of the band’s soundcheck – his light-hearted insistence of “never let your brother tell you that you can’t play Wonderwall” drawing laughs from a receptive audience. This Deep South mob’s penchant for rabid growls, muscular beatdowns and colossal hooks may be straight out of the metalcore playbook, but the rabid frenzy that follows practically ignites Mama Roux’s transforming this venue into a sea of writhing bodies. The opening blastbeats on cathartic earworm Dead Memory are so filth-laden that anyone listening is required to bathe afterwards, and with the juxtaposition of throat-ripping screams and searing cleans Death Grip is the perfect combination of arena metal and black metal sludge. The inclusion of Warpath pleases the old-school contingent present, whilst visceral cuts Slave To Nothing and djent-tinged Cold Room incite swirling circle pits and sing-a-longs en masse. If there was any doubt that the Texans were still in the ascendancy, a nuclear-strength rendition of Pissed Off that veers more towards MESHUGGAH than traditional metalcore obliterates any lingering speculation.
The flames have barely been extinguished as Levi Benton strides out and leads the MISS MAY I charge into a performance brimming with raucous energy. The defiant frontman throws himself around every inch of available space from the very first note, and as MISS MAY I rage seamlessly through a blistering salvo of Lost In The Grey, Deathless and Masses of a Dying Breed, the weight hits the baying throng below like a ton of bricks. Assured melodies are married with cascading riffs during a set dominated by hard-hitting cuts from latest release Shadows Inside, and every single invitation to “bang your fuckin’ head” is instantly accepted. The anthems come thick and fast tonight; from the frenzy-inducing Casualties and Crawl to feral earworm Swallow Your Teeth which drops with all the power of an unexploded bomb. Those emphatic dual vocals and chorus refrains are catchier than flu in deepest winter, whilst Jerod Boyd’s extended drum solo finishes the song with a flourish and tempers the guttural darkness preceding it. Spectacular may be an exaggeration, but it’s certainly a solid display of musicianship from a band who know how to keep metalcore interesting.
Check out our photo gallery from the action in Birmingham from Jamie Vann-Watson here: