Friday, 1 March 2013

February Metal Hammer Calendar Challenge - Miss May I

 Hello and welcome to my 2013 Metal Hammer Calendar Challenge! Every month this year I'll be setting myself a challenge to listen to as many tracks by the band featured on Metal Hammer's 2013 calendar as possible in the month they're featured.
Miss May I February began on a high note in my musical experimentation, I'd been listening to bands I'd neglected since my teenage years such as CKY, and of course the long awaited (by me, at least) return of Fall Out Boy heralded night after night of Folie A Deux on loop. I stand by my claim that no artist could top Coffee's For Closers. But this month, I was in no mood for discovering new music.

The first admirable quality of Miss May I is their solidarity, they've more or less maintained the same members since they formed in 2006, it says a lot about a band that can stand together and support each other through a rise to fame.

Miss May I are signed to Rise Records, who have signed some of the best post-hardcore bands I've heard - From First To Last, Man Overboard, Memphis May Fire, Of Mice and Men and Sleeping With Sirens to name a few too many. They're the only record label I subscribe to on YouTube because I love their new releases, they brought my attentions to the likes of Misser and Hands Like Houses which have become permanent additions to my playlists, and that's a high honour considering my phone only takes 4GB of music! My highlight of Rise Records alumni are Isles and Glaciers, the supergroup combining members of Pierce The Veil, Chiodos and Emarosa, which I would highly recommend if you've yet to discover their EP The Hearts Of Lonely People.

I chose their 2012 album At Heart as my starting point for this challenge, mainly because the album cover appealed to me more than their previous two, it kind of reminds me of a cross between The Used's Vulnerable and 30 Seconds To Mars' A Beautiful Lie, bands seem to like evocative portraits of boys, possibly as subtle self-reminders of themselves growing up, who knows? Plus I wanted to change my tactic and dive straight into their most recent work to get a picture of who they've become today, so without further ado, what did I make of Miss May I?

At Heart - 47 seconds of instrumental genius. It embodies a kind of chaos between the instruments, a screaming electric drowning out a solemn piano. Good start, I love instrumentals.

Ballad Of A Broken Man - This is definitely my kind of music. A good combination of singing and screaming, I have a weakness for bands like Bring Me The Horizon. Their drum work reminds me of Machine Head, that's what I love about metal, the drummers work so hard, the dedication is astounding. I can see myself listening to this over and over.

Bleeding Out - What an opening 10 seconds! I love songs that keep you guessing to begin with - will it stay slow or will it kick in soon? I'm surprised I've never given these guys a proper listen before, they're really my style. Still a great balance between singing and screaming, which really gets me going.

Day By Day - Somehow this intro reminds me of Billy Talent, whether or not they'd be offended by that comparison is another story. But the rest reminds me of From First To Last and Trivium, both bands I've loved for a while.

Found Our Way - I may have just found a new favourite song. The intro is beautiful, the lyrics, everything about this song is just my kind of thing. I'm hearing a kind of Of Mice And Men vibe! I love the notes this ends on, I have a weakness for certain notes on electric guitars and while I don't play guitar so I can't tell you what notes exactly, it's the notes you hear at the very end of this song.

Gold To Rust - The energy this band gives off is electric, they really work hard and it definitely pays off. I'm loving their singer, he hits some great notes. I especially love songs that leave you feeling empowered and energised, and the way their pace changes through the songs definitely gives me that feeling.

Hey Mister - The intro at first reminded me of Weezer - Memories, to the point I thought my phone had shuffled tracks! This one's probably the catchiest of all the tracks on this album.

Leech - I love the way this band open their songs with a powerful line to set the scene for the rest of the song. The drumming in the middle of this song reminds me so much of Machine Head, it's fast, crazy and yet somehow effortless. I'm in love with the lyrics to this - 'parasite remove your teeth from me'. Some people don't like tracks that repeat lyrics over and over but this reinforces the rage behind the words, so I'm cool with it.

Live This Life - The competition for best intro has just begun with this track, the opening guitar played on my favourite chords as I mentioned earlier. I still love how Miss May I seamlessly merge singing with screaming, it really makes the transition a lot smoother, as it can be hard to get into a band that just screams, especially if you've not listened to much metal before.

Opening Wounds - Another contender for the best guitar intro award! I'm liking how the screaming here is a bit more toned down, not that I didn't love it before, but it's almost as if the emotions he's conveying break him down to a weaker position. Love the lyrics to this track, like Found A Way, it's depicting emotions that I'm sure we can all relate to.

Road Of The Lost - I was looking forward to this one because the title reminds me of Slayer's titles, and to be honest they're not far off Slayer in my books.
The growling's a lot more guttural than their tracks so far and I love it. More growling alongside singing, they make a great combination for this band, it's rare to find a band that have the two down to an art. Insane drumming yet again, I'd like to hug this drummer. He must be exhausted. Well, I'd hug the entire band, they're slowly crawling up my charts for favourite bands and only a hug can express my gratitude.

Second To No-One - Loving the word play title. I'm feeling a bit of a Mastodon vibe with this track, not that I'm complaining! Powerful lyrics too, these guys don't take the easy way out, you can tell how much hard work and dedication goes into every song, every single member puts their heart and soul into it. I guess it shows how they've managed to stay together with their original lineup, they're all as passionate about music as each other.

Siren's Song - An epic intro I really wasn't expecting, Siren's Song somehow made me imagine a slow instrumental. You can really hear the vocalists' ranges from growling to screaming in this track, they're destroying their vocals for their music, but I for one am grateful, because their music is growing on me like ivy. The closing to this track really encapsulated what I felt about this entire month - I knew the end was coming, but I tried to hold it off because I didn't want it to.

So that's all the tracks! I'm really pleased I chose At Heart for this month, it's given me a great first impression of Miss May I and I'll definitely be looking more into them.

Would I go to see Miss May I live?
Definitely. From this first impression, I'm keen on finding out when they're next in the UK!

Favourite track?
Found Our Way really stands out for me, and the same with Hey Mister. I just love it all. I really can't pick a track I didn't enjoy.

Would I listen to more Miss May I?
Of course! I'm glad I set myself this challenge already because I've discovered a band that are really my style. If you're starting out with metal and you need a band that aren't too in-your-face, then Miss May I should be your first port of call. I couldn't recommend this album highly enough!

Now February's over, it's time for March's challenge, which is Ghost. I've been impatiently waiting for this one! I loved Ghost this time last year and I was gutted I missed them at Download, but they seemed to slip off my radar for some reason. It's a shame their new album isn't out in time for March, but I'll be re-listening to their debut album Opus Eponymous throughout the month, so tune back in a month's time to find out what I really think of Ghost.

Do you like Miss May I? Favourite song?

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