Miss May I

At Heart

Written by: PP on 30/07/2012 23:13:25

Known colloquially as the As I Lay Dying replacement, Miss May I have been one of the bands that I've been following on and off if for nothing else than their dedication to the old school, riff-driven metalcore sound instead of the breakdown obsessed chugfests of electronic vomit that's been in for the past couple of years. Basically, Miss May I owe everything in their sound to "Confined" by As I Lay Dying, and have ever since their debut album "Apologies For The Weak" been deriving more and more from that formula. They've honed their sound and compositional skills enough for "At Heart" to avoid the most obvious parallels to As I Lay Dying, but fundamentally their sound is still driven by the exact same principles: all-screamed vocal delivery, save for some cleans well-placed for chorus moments, dynamic, often racing guitar leads played at high tempo and high skill to demonstrate technical ability as well as understanding of how to bridge two separate verses together without a stupefying breakdown in between.

On paper, that's all good. But in practice, their third album exposes more flaws with the modern metalcore sound than is necessary for one album. Nothing about "At Heart" is new. Every riff, every chorus melody, every piece of flair, whether a solid vocal melody or a funky tapped out guitar melody, literally everything on this album took place almost ten years ago when the genre was first developing. A retrospective sound is certainly fresh in the context of their peers and any newer listeners not familiar with classics by AILD, Darkest Hour, Killswitch and all the other legends in the genre, but as someone who's listened through the genre's evolution it's difficult not to shake your head and think that there are some decent riffs here but it's oh-so-generic in every which way, mostly because we've heard this very album by countless other bands in the past. Not necessarily better, but not worse either.

There are a couple of moments on the album where Miss May I showcase real skill at songwriting (even though originality is at zero throughout), such as on "Opening Wounds" which has a nice ambient section and a subtle tempo change that adds texture to the song. It's instantly more interesting than opening track "Hey Mister" or something like "Second To No One", which essentially bleed saturated riffs that we've all heard before in one form or another in the last 5 years alone. But credit must be given where credit is due: "At Heart" is a nonchalant metalcore album. It assumes nothing, and fires its standard weapons accurately and hits targets reasonably well - sometimes even in bullseye such as on the mega catchy "Day By Day" . So for metalcore enthusiasts (are you still out there?), "At Heart" is probably as good as it gets in 2012 if you don't venture into the hybrid styles where you'll find bands like The Ghost Inside and other far more innovative bands.

Download: Opening Wounds, Sirens Song, Day By Day
For the fans of: As I Lay Dying, Darkest Hour
Listen: Facebook

Release date 12.06.2012
Rise Records

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