2014’s Rise Of The Lion showed a slight shift in Miss May I‘s metal core base that may have divided the fanbase a bit. There was a desire to get back to the raw feel that made the band noticeable from their contemporaries. One would have to give a nod from the work ethic that is put forth as Deathless followed a year later, but it seems like a half a lifetime happened since then. One thing that stands out is that this is Miss May I in a rawer form. Everything about how these songs are formulated, even down to how the album is mixed. Producer Joey Sturgis who previously worked on the band’s first two records came back to join the fray.
One of the highlights of the album is bassist/vocalist Ryan Neff who has grown considerably as the compliment to unclean vocalist Levi Benton. Where Benton’s screams are even more guttural this time around, Neff’s vocals are equally as strong. “I.H.E.”, the first taste we received from Deathless marked a return to form of sorts. Guitars from Justin Aufdemkampe and B.J. Stead are intricately woven together. The song sets the tone lyrically as well. Within the year that this was recorded, Benton had fallen on hard times – that energy is very reflective on Deathless. “Trust My Heart” helps give a one-two punch for the opening of the album. “Psychotic Romance” plays like a dark, dreary, metalcore version of a love song. It’s almost gothic. “I’m not worthy of your beauty/I’m not worthy of a love like this,” Benton beckons amidst a backdrop of drummer Jerod Boyd‘s assault of double bass and fills. It’s one of the most aggressive and one of the only tracks that just features unclean vocals only.
One of the issues of Deathless in that it’s strengths become it’s weakness in some respects. While many will be glad to hear the band investing in it’s roots, it relies on it a lot throughout the record where some of the album sounds very similar. There’s a comfort level with how the songs are structured which would on records like “Bastards Left Behind”, a track that has a huge chorus of people bellowing behind Neff. The song will no doubt be a “rallying cry” for the Miss May I faithful. “The Artificial” and “Born From Nothing” are essentially cut from the same cloth. When the songs work, they work and when they are multiplied, they mirror the songs that work other than differentiating from them.
Deathless neither moves the needle forward or backward, but it’s an honest depiction of where Miss May I currently stands. It was good to hear that the band hasn’t lost their edge as they are just as combative as ever, but there are some good song writing motifs that could have been forged through as well. If you look at MMI’s discography as a whole considering Deathless, it’s another consistent entry into their rotation. Perhaps down the road, the foundation will be shaken a bit, for now, the train keeps going.
Review written by M.J. Rawls – Follow him on Twitter. https://twitter.com/viewtifulj21