Produced by Andrew Wade and Drew Fulk, “Shadows Inside” is Miss May I‘s sixth studio release, making its debut on SharpTone Records.
This 34-minute masterpiece is the result of moving from longtime label Rise Records, with all the newly found energy coming from the change of scenery.
Whether it be the raw, yet highly tuned unclean vocals of Levi Benton, the screaming and attention grabbing lead guitar of B.J Stead, the extra punches delivered to the ears of listeners by both Justin Aufdemkampe‘s rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Ryan Neff and his resonating bass and the contributing factor of the clean vocals or Jerod Boyd leading the troop from the back on drums and percussion, they were just oozing pure energy when recording and it is highly evident on every scale.
The record opens with the title track Shadows Inside; from the opening guitar chords, you know that you have yourself strapped in for one face melting roller-coaster ride. The screaming guitar that opens up the song gets joined by the drums just before Benton opens up and releases a raw scream that signals all hell is about to break lose on your eardrums. There is a small orchestral-esque break down not long after where Neff showcases off his vocal abilities before the tempo changes again with another Benton scream. This happens steadily throughout the song, with a small guitar solo thrown in, adding to the masterpiece of these two vocalists working together, in sync once again.
The DragonForce influenced style intro of second track Under Fire, soon changes with a very quick tempo, leading into Barton’s distinct rawness of his powerful vocal display, spitting out the opening lyrics. The chorus is another beautiful melodic breakdown where Neff shows off his vocal abilities being backed by just the drums for the most part; “I will carry on” are the final lyrics in the chorus, being repeated by Levi before Miss May I turn the volume up to 11. The track closes with Levi screaming “I will carry on” one last time.
Never Let Me Stay opens up vastly different to the first two tracks on the record. Taking a step back starting off with clean crisp guitars before Neff opens the vocals on, pairing nicely with the backing vocals of Stead for the most part of this track. Benton remains quiet apart from a few repeating chorus lines and the occasional scream. It’s a nice refreshing change to the first two tracks and shows just how much Miss May I is highly skilled with their vocal range.
Following along the lines of the previous track, My Destruction also starts out nice and relaxed for the first 10 seconds before Benton announces another tempo change. Constant chugging guitar and raw vocals, see a solo thrown in for good measure towards the end. The shortest song on the album is by no means the runt of the litter!
Turning the amp back up to 11, Casualties starts with multiple mini guitar riffs before both the drums and Benton kick in simultaneously to complete the equation. You can really hear the newly found energy in Benton as he sings, being beautifully followed up by Ryan wrapping up the chorus. The last third of the song is lead by more chugging guitar leading into Neff belting out “In Darkness, we bury each other” and the rest of the chorus for one last time, Benton joining in for a nice dual vocal outro; once again a beautiful showcasing of the vocal pairing.
Starting with a slow ominous drum beat, Crawl shows off Neff’s deeper but still velvet smooth vocal range before raising it up to the higher range that he showcases throughout most of the album. Nice balance between drums and vocals in the chorus, being nicely wrapped up with the guitar; it’s a nice song to rest the neck during, with the exception of a small breakdown towards the end of the song.
The longest track on the album, Swallow Your Teeth starts with a dual melodic vocal harmony before Benton does something unique to this song; singing for the briefest moment before releasing another venom spitting snarl. Nice heavy breakdowns and riffs broken up with more vocal harmonizing continue throughout the rest of the song. Include small solo cameos by both Ryan and Levi add a bow to this neat little package on the album.
Kicking off with a nice slow piece of guitar and then drums to add that extra kick (pardon the unintended pun!), Death Knows My Name is a melodic gem on this album. Vocals are shared pretty evenly on this track, with all the instruments taking a clear back for the most part; bar the small guitar solo towards the end of the song. The love child of metal and opera would sound something like this.
With the official music video, Lost In The Grey is the other teaser that Miss May I gave to the public to salivate over before the album is publicly available. Starting out with nice harmonizing of both guitar/drums and Ryan/Levi on vocals, the opening 25 seconds are semi-casual before the rhythm changes and the headbanging begins. Levi rips into his newly tuned scream and the drums/guitar scream along behind. The chorus brings about another fantastic contrast of both vocalists, culminating with a Levi snarl leading into the second verse. More chugging guitar behind Levi leads into the chorus again, as well as the final words “We are greater than this, we are stronger than before; there’s no locking us in, we’re not helpless anymore” jumping out at the listener as if intended to leave a long lasting memory.
The final track of the album My Sorrow beautifully wraps up the intense energetic ride you first started back with the title track just over half an hour ago. Starting out with a nice clean slow guitar and soft vocal opening, before you know it as if you’re suddenly in the middle of the mosh because out of nowhere the song takes a most majestic turn and forces you to face every Levi scream, Ryan’s clean vocals/bass guitar, Jerod’s smashing symbols/skins, Justin’s angelic backing vocals/rhythm guitar and B.J’s face melting guitar one last time with no mercy. It punishes your ears worse than 10 rounds with Mike Tyson before beautifully coming to a close in pure silence as if it was all just a dream.
34 minutes of must listen metalcore magic! 82/100