Review Summary: A letdown with a few exciting moments.
Miss May I has always been notable for their domination of the modern post-hardcore genre that is favored by teens, always notorious amongst scenie-weenies as the heaviest content on their iPods. Crushing breakdowns and laden with riffs, and a very rare clean passage led by bassist Ryan Neff. Monument
, the predecessor to At Heart
, filled this description to the tee, and thrusted the group into mass popularity. It gave the next release some real work to do if it is to stand head to head or even surpass Monument
"Hey Mister", lead single of At Heart
and opening track (disregarding the self-titled prologue) is a very nice song and introduces the listener to MMI's familiar sound and definitely grows onto any fan very quickly, yet there's a distinct difference that is possible to ignore for at least the song's length. Proceeding into the record, it quickly loses it's luster. At Heart
lacks any element of surprise that was so prominent in the previous releases, and the speed once favored so well by the group is all but gone. Screamer Levi Benton's vocals remain in top-notch form but take a slight sound of a tiring yell that, while still present, does not give the variety of shrieks and bellows that he is so famed for.
In the past, bassist Ryan Neff's clean vocals have been passable (and monotone) at best. But here is where his acceptable presence finally falls off. His vocals in At Heart
are downright awful and make the album more of a drag than a change in the group's style. Coupled with a similar style that is changed only by the oversight and influence of producer Machine (Lamb of God, Haste the Day, Suicide Silence), Neff's clean vocals and supporting instrumental work almost reminds a (metal-educated) listener of Sonic Syndicate. And, though Sonic Syndicate is great, when a group is in a scene with bands like Asking Alexandria, Memphis May Fire, and Like Moths to Flame, it is not
a good thing to sound like them.
Maybe it's the transition from Joey Sturgis to Machine that influences Miss May I so monumentally (no pun intended), or just the eternal struggle to be something more that urged this quintet to shift their goals to a more metal crowd. If option two is correct, then this record is a dismal failure and is not recommended to anybody that isn't a fan. While it has memorable moments, the record seems like a shade of it's predecessors without the edge they are so keenly appreciated for.
- Levi Benton wins again
- Instruments remain a fun listen
- A few great songs among the dreary
- Filler is so bad it sometimes make it difficult to listen to
- Ryan Neff. . .
- Not very good at a traditional heavy sound they're trying for
Memorable moments: Hey Mister, Ballad of a Broken Man, Second to No One