Miss May I – ‘Shadows Inside’

By Matt Borucki

If nothing else, Miss May I’s longevity deserves praise. They first broke onto the scene in ’09, fresh-faced and just looking to kick up some dirt, but they’ve dropped album number six and are more established than ever. Most young bands burn out after an initial injection of hype, but these Ohio metallers have managed to reinvent themselves time and time again as the goalposts shift, and ‘Shadows Inside’ is proof of their development.

The title track opens the record in fairly typical fashion, churning out roars and riffs at an accustomed rate, but it’s not entirely reflective of the direction this album has taken. When they bite – on the singles ‘Swallow Your Teeth’ and ‘Lost In The Grey’, most notably – they bite hard, but ’Shadows Inside’ mainly earns credit in other areas.

‘Death Knows My Name’ is smooth, melodic, and fine-tuned, ‘Under Fire’ has an undeniably classic vibe, and ‘Never Let Me Stay’ is distinctly eerie. Collectively, it makes for a more polished effort, all working surprisingly well with Levi Benton’s ever-sharp vocals. Each track is lead-driven; less about the breakdown, more about the progression and arrangement. Heavyweights like Trivium have adopted this approach, albeit to varying degrees of success, but Miss May I have struck a fine balance to remain relevant to fans both new and old.

Yet, ultimately, ‘Shadows Inside’ does not boast their best material. Miss May I are far better when the shackles are off, but the restrictions weighing down parts of the record are almost tangible. There are a few tracks that need to shift up a gear, to go a bit heavier, but are being held back. They are striving for that mature sound, but it doesn’t appear to come naturally yet.

As Miss May I continue to develop in this new direction, it will not take long for them to get it right. They cannot be the band they were eight years ago, and their desire not to be is commendable. ‘Shadows Inside’ offers something different, which has to been seen as a success, even if every note isn’t as strong as it could have been.

MATT BORUCKI

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