Review Summary: Miss May I return, just one year after "Rise of the Lion", with a much more mature sound, as well as improved vocals from Levi Benton and Ryan Neff.
Miss May I, the melodic metalcore suit from Troy, Ohio, has been one of those hit and miss bands up to this point in their career. They, like many of their contemporaries, do a solid job at coinciding clean with unclean vocals. Unclean vocalist Levi Benton and clean vocalist Ryan Neff do a good job to compliment each other to the best of the ability. It's been a lack of originality. One thing they've also lacked is the ability to push the envelope. More often than not, the music they create is nothing we haven't heard before. 2014's "Rise of the Lion", their fourth full-length release from Rise Records, went to different places for the most part. It was a bit of jumbled mix of left and right turns. "Deathless", their fifth long player, sees Miss May I finally crack out of their generic shell.
On tracks like album opener "I.H.E." (standing for "I Hate Everyone") shows they still have some growing up to do, but the instrumentation has never been better for this group. For the most part, it follows the same blueprint like tracks such as "Gone", from their last record. A few riff chugs here and there, but nothing flashy or desperate for attention. And that's a good sign for this group. The ability to push the envelope without being overly abrasive and forced, is simply uncanny, and Miss May I deserves credit where it's due for finally being able to perpetuate this.
Benton's screams are crisp and on the mark with tracks such as "Psychotic Romantic", where Benton tells of not being deserving of love ("I'm not worthy of such beauty./I'm not worthy of a love like this.") This modest mantra is quite personable, and again, the group is able to convey their theme without forcing it upon the listener and causing the listener to skip the track.
The group has brought their penchant for wanting to evolve this time around, and they've made it quite clear they don't want their history to repeat itself. This pays dividends on tracks like the album's eponymous track, where Benton tells of giving up everything to get something in return. While standard metalcore fare at times, the group has in fact improved in the lyrics department, and songwriting was always an issue in the early going.
Tracks like "Turn Back the Time" have pretty enjoyable riffs, while "Arise" is a standout track vocally speaking. The group improve in every facet, and while you may think they rushed to make up for "Rise of the Lion" (again, just one year separates these releases.) Though, give them credit. They want to prove they've acknowledged their mistakes and put the past behind them.
Closing track "Born from Nothing" epitomizes the maturation Miss May I has managed to perpetuate in only a year. Levi and Ryan combine their forces once again to create a tale of running away from what who we used to be, and running towards who we will become. Another relatable mantra, while another standard metalcore track, the song does represent the very true idea that what we have done cannot be undone, but changes can be made to make up for them. This message is the embodiment of everything this album is, and fortunately for Miss May I, their evident maturation pays dividends.