Album review: Miss May I – Shadows Inside
Release date: 2nd June, 2017
Record label: SharpTone
Arguably the biggest workaholics in the modern metalcore scene, Ohio melody-makers Miss May I have released (almost) six full-length studio albums in less than ten years. In a world where records are becoming less and less profitable by the day thanks to streaming websites and apps like Spotify, this feat alone is a highly respectable one, as the band is clearly more than willing to share as much music as possible with its quickly amassing, cult fanbase.
However, this also brings with it a double-edged sword. Sure, you can pump out albums faster than most of your metal contemporaries, but how do you up the quantity without losing any of the quality?
Bizarrely, Shadows Inside is the answer to this qualm. And the term “bizarrely” is used because, on paper, the album appears to be like any other metalcore record. It’s not particularly long (only clocking in at 35 minutes), nor is it overly complex or mind-blowingly progressive. It is a pure metalcore album: no more, no less.
But, that being said, it is absolutely fantastic at being a metalcore album. Shadows Inside contains every aspect of the burgeoning subgenre that fans have fallen in love with since its commercial peak more than a decade ago.
The record’s melodies are pure, rousing and brilliantly powerful. This is doubtlessly a result of one of the album’s best features: its vocals. Four of Miss May I’s five members (with the odd one out being drummer Jerod Boyd) contribute their voices to the album, and that fact definitely shows, as gorgeous gang-vocalised harmonies shine through sing-along choruses and sometimes melo-death-inspired lead guitar work. Thus, entries like the album’s rip-roaring title track, as well as the intense closer “My Sorrow” and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “My Destruction”, are truly destined to be crowd-popping anthems in the very near-future, at times crafting an even more intriguing dichotomy by layering Levi Benton’s abrasive growls directly over the clean-sung backing.
As a result, the choruses of Shadows Inside are truly accessible and easy to hum along to even after only one or two listens, yet they still do not sacrifice the intensity of the rest of the record’s more aggressive moments, which rain down like heavy thunder through despondent screams and raucous rhythms. For a metalcore LP to not lose its guttural momentum as it switches from harsh to melodic is an all-too-rare feat, but Miss May I remains constant on Shadows Inside, never compromising their pace and ferocity even as the clean leads begin to creep in.
Because of this, Shadows Inside is the first metalcore record in far too long to legitimately feel like a fluid, evolving entity. It isn’t just bridging harsh and clean because that’s what the subgenre’s rulebook says every band should do; the album feels organic because of how well each moment, whether it’s aggressive or not, seamlessly bleeds into the next.
Metalcore hasn’t felt this off-the-wall or inspired since the halcyon days of Bullet for My Valentine’s The Poison (2005) or Trivium’s Shogun (2008). While Shadows Inside doesn’t reinvent the rock n’ roll wheel or change metal for generations to come, it fulfils every aim that it clearly had when still in the planning stages. It’s heavy, it’s harmonic, it’s intense, it’s full of riffs, it’s good fun… what’s not to love?
Shadows Inside gets 9 lions being poked in the eye out of 10.
Shadows Inside will be available physically and digitally via SharpTone Records on 2nd June.