Review Summary: Rise of the Lion reeks of wasted potential and lazy songwriting.
Miss May I have released their most formulaic and weakest album to date. Rise of the Lion
is the sound of a band regressing further away from the potential that once shone bright on their debut LP. Apologies Are For The Weak
used punishing breakdowns, some creative riffs, and Levi Benton's varied vocal delivery to provide an album that stood above its peers. It has unfortunately been a downward spiral with each album, so it shouldn't surprise the listener that this album is the band's most derivative output yet.
While the vocals have always been a plus on past releases, Benton's screams have devolved to a very strained yell that only hints at its former glory. The lack of variation only further accentuate the bland instrumentation present here; what's worse, the whole affair isn't egregiously bad, simply just painfully boring and inoffensive. The aggressive tempo in past albums has been replaced with a mid-tempo pacing that seems lackadaisical. "Gone" demonstrates this recurring problem perfectly; the clean vocals in the chorus are made for radio rock, and the riff at the end of the song couldn't have been more watered-down and uninspired. The final nail in the coffin is the sameness in songwriting throughout Rise of the Lion
; the beginning guitars in both "You Want Me" and "Tangled Tongues" are so similar that they are almost indistinguishable. It's at this particular point that the tracks start bleeding into one another, and the listener doesn't have any respite from the feeling of sameness that pervades the whole record.
That's not to say that there isn't anything to enjoy on the album. Fans of the older material will find remnants of their more abrasive sound within the tameness that dominates throughout this release. "Refuse to Believe" and "Lunatik" actually start the record fairly well, employing strong choruses and passionately screamed vocals. Surprisingly, the best track to be found here is the most melodic track. "Echoes" is Miss May I's attempt to craft a radio-friendly track, and while it is the antithesis of what Miss May I have released in the past, it suits them quite well at this point. The fans that are still waiting on the promise that the band had on their first album will be disappointed, but the casual listener of post hardcore and modern metalcore could potentially find some merit in the songs presented. Unfortunately, Rise of the Lion
reeks of wasted potential and lazy songwriting. Here's to hoping Miss May I can bounce back from the lack of edge present here and refine their overall approach; the disappointment here for older fans is palpable.