At Heart, Miss May I’s newly-released third album, is perfectly timed, considering their involvement in this summer’s Vans Warped Tour. Crisply-produced and deliberately composed, the album showcases the metal genre’s new school of noteworthy young bands, obsessed over by teenagers nationwide.
Their second album with clean vocalist/bassist Ryan Neff, At Heart is a high-energy but ultimately run-of-the-mill collection of aggressive, hard-charging pit-ready metal, rife with as many breakdowns as you’d expect. The alternating dual vocal attack of Neff and the more gravelly-voiced Levi Benton help the band toe the line between true metal and metalcore, creating a blend well-suited for the Warped crowd.
Adopting the same formula laid out by bands like Atreyu and Slipknot more than decade ago, the clean/guttural vocal assault allows Miss May I to be both melodic and extreme, in the same vein as Welsh band Bullet for My Valentine, who shot to fame a few years back with a similarly well-designed sound. This has its moments, on tracks such as opener “Hey Mister” (scream-y verses, jarring tempo changes and an anthemic chorus), “Opening Wounds”, and “Leech” (led by Neff’s refrain).
If you’re not into the clean vocal/guttural howl approach very much, Miss May I might not be your thing. They employ the use of both vocalists on nearly every song, though some (such as the breakdown-heavy “Gold to Rust”) veer close to thrash-metal territory with its relentless barrage of shrieks, riffs and speed.
Miss May I is the perfect type of band to show someone interested in today’s “metal scene”. They’re just melodic enough to appeal to the more discerning fans out there, and just technically precise enough to qualify as “metal”, although they’re definitely representative of the recent youthful trends of the genre.
Admittedly, they’re not for everyone, as metalcore has its critics, but chances are good that At Heart will become a huge fan favorite all summer long. Meanwhile, for the next few months, Miss May I will be responsible for many a circle pit breaking out in sweltering parking lots across the country as the Warped Tour makes its rounds.
ALBUM RATING: 3 Stars (out of five)