Review Summary: I've been disappointed a lot by 2014 music releases. None have made me as angry as this one.
Miss May I is famous in my book for their albums Monument and At Heart, which are both great albums with great screaming, great singing and a fantastic band playing around them. So you wouldn't expect there to be any problems this time around, right?
No, you wouldn't. And you'd be terribly wrong.
Actually, the band musicians (mainly guitarists and the drummer) still give an honest effort--and I laud them for that, considering all the terrible things that were happening around them on this album. It's not their fault that this album is disappointing.
Where do I even start?
In the past, Levi Benton has been an excellent screamer with a great variety (especially on the Monument album) and Ryan Neff has flowed okay with the band--he's not the best, but he never really made you cringe. All that changes here. Levi Benton sounds *awful* on this album. His scream variety is completely gone. Now he sounds no different from a generic boring screamer--which is made even worse by the fact that he's supposed to be better than this. And for some reason, Ryan Neff's clean vocals just do not flow with much of the music here. "Refuse to Believe" is a good example. It just doesn't sound right.
And then there's the sound quality. The album almost sounds like it was recorded in my garage in comparison to the excellent quality of the last two albums. And what's sad is that Justin Aufdemkampe, B.J. Stead and Jerod Boyd are all trying their hardest--and yet the horrible production utterly ruins them. A lot of the tracks sound very similar to each other, and continuously, blandly, and monotonously drone on.
The lyrical quality also goes down on a few tracks. "Echoes" and "Hero Without a Name" do admittedly have excellent lyrics (sadly the only pluses on their respective tracks), but on other tracks like "Refuse to Believe" or "You Want Me" they just sound... lame. I mean, what happened? Example: "You want me and only me. Well alright let's go tonight." What?!
The only song that really sounds anything like the Miss May I that I know and love is the album closer "Saints, Sinners and Greats" which is sadly too short to make a big difference anyway. Oddly enough, Levi's screams on this one are actually decent again--and so is the instrumentation. It's like they fired the producer after making this one okay song and hired the horrendous producer afterwards.
Rise Of the Lion could have been a good album. In some ways, it's not entirely the band's fault--it's the producer's fault and the sound quality's fault. But what they *can* control is properly using their vocal abilities and writing better lyrics as a whole. In other words, it still wouldn't have been as good as the last two albums. And in its current state, it's pretty bad.
This is pretty sad to say, but I'd take Memphis May Fire's Unconditional over this drivel.
Recommended Tracks: NONE.