Miss May I are one of the very few bands currently on Rise Records that I like. While they’re predominately known as a metalcore band, they’re interesting enough to separate themselves from a lot of similar bands in the genre in it for the money and to capitalise on trends.
Rise of The Lion is the bands fourth full-length album release and quite possibly their best. Still at the very core they’re a metalcore band, but this time around they’ve branched out and gone for a more straight-up metal sound.
The album title is a reference to the band returning to their known brand-symbol of a lion. Their previous album At Heart didn’t feature the lion and fans were wondering where it went. So the band set out to find the ultimate Miss May I fan, tattoo the lion onto their back and photograph it for the records album artwork.
The current trend in metalcore/post-hardcore seems to be either going back to the roots of straight-up metal or going in the nu-metal direction: Miss May I chose to walk the line between the two. Sounding like a mixture of early 2000’s metal like Trapt and Caliban & Trivium all rolled into one.
Lyrically this album feels a cut above anything else in the MMI catalogue, there is a human like quality in the way front-man Levi Benton enunciates himself. Production wise there are some interesting twists and turns; actual guitar riffs, lots of distortion, lack of breakdowns and an interesting approach to vocal delivery from front-man Levi Benton. Heck, you can even hear the bass guitar in the mix. There aren’t many modern produced records you can hear the bass guitar in.
Compared to the bands entire back catalogue, Rise of The Lion is almost incomparable. One minute it’s a metal record, the next minute it is bordering on the nu-metal side and then without warning you’re listening to a two-step inducing hardcore track. The band did say this would be their most diverse album yet and they’ve followed through on that promise.
On the subject of of the bands new-found energy and sound, front-man Levi Benton has taken his vocals in a whole new direction. You can hear the spit gargling in his throat, his vocals sound raw and bad-ass. There are times where Benton’s vocals get a little too gargly, (I’m looking at you, “Echoes“). Having said that, the chorus in the track “Echoes” is super catchy and quite possibly the catchiest thing the band have ever written.
One of my favourite tracks on the album was actually the track that sounds the least like a Miss May I song in the form of, “You Want Me” this is the kind of track that will make you want to fuck shit up. It honestly has that Five Finger Death Punch riff-driven feel about it. I never thought I’d live to see the day Miss May I would make a song like this.
Ending the album on an extremely interesting note is the track, “Saints, Sinners and Greats” in many aspects this is a throwback to post 2009 Miss May I with hints of The Black Dahlia Murder thrown in. It’s heavy, it’s fast and Levi’s vocal delivery on this track feels more fitting than other tracks on the album. A great way to close what is arguably a combination stir-fry of brutality.
Even though this is arguably a pretty great album, it does fall short in some aspects. As diverse as it is, it does get a little overwhelming. The lack of interludes and softer tracks on one hand makes this the metal record the band wanted it to be, but it does make it difficult to appreciate and swallow without the breathing.
I think Miss May I are going to garner a lot of new fans but in the process they’re going to lose some of their current fans who won’t like this new-found metal sound the band are going for. Some people prefer the older metalcore style stuff and the band can’t really do anything about it. You can’t make everyone happy.
A solid effort from an equally solid band.
Rating: 9 out of 10.