The guts of Miss May I’s fourth studio effort, Rise of the Lion, is in its groove. Having built their house on a foundation of metalcore, vocalist Levi Benton became frustrated with the synonymous association, telling this magazine it upset him when people knew “the sound” when you mention the band’s name. And so the Troy, OH guys took a concentrated effort to write a groove metal album, and it works.
The album itself is way more Killswitch Engage than Memphis May Fire. They purposely avoided the breakdown trap that many in the genre rely on, instead building a dynamic with melody and timing. There is a depth to the musicianship, and some significant technical work put into the parts that need it. That restraint is helpful on Rise of the Lion; when the beats need to blast, they’re tight and metal-to-form, but when the dynamic necessitates a flowery interlude, it’s done properly. The band did a wonderful job finding that balance.
As with most new endeavors, finding your sea legs is part of the process. A band must evolve, but they can’t abandon who they are or their fan base. Miss May I hasn’t done that, and they won’t if they work album-to-album. If Rise of the Lion is this promising, Benton was right not to rest on his laurels. It’s gutsy and can backfire, but I know one thing for sure: I’ll be buying the next chapter.