Miss May I – Curse Of Existence
Released: September 2nd, 2022
Levi Benton // Vocals
B.J. Stead // Guitar, Vocals
Justin Aufdemkampe // Guitar
Ryan Neff // Bass, Vocals
Jerod Boyd // Drums
It has been 5 years since Miss May I dropped Shadows Inside, and the boys are back with Curse of Existence. Now the band often get critiqued by original fans that “they haven’t been good since ‘Monument’”, which many would agree was a massive album for metalcore as a whole back in the day. The four singles the band have dropped so far have hinted that Miss May I may be back in that Monument form. Does the rest of the album deliver furious riffs, anthemic chorus’, and bone-shattering breakdowns? Let’s find out.
Miss May I waste no time getting into it with opener ‘A Smile That Does Not Exist’; 5 seconds of guitar feedback, quickly turns into face-melting blastbeats and a shreddy guitar riff. Levi Benton’s familiar dirty vocals rasp through the verses and Ryan Neff’s cleans soar over the chorus. Open chords, battle drums, and group vocals build up before a quick pause and a short vocal callout introduce the crushing breakdown. Miss May I are back to what they do best.
Jerod Boyd smashes the china cymbal to start ‘Earth Shaker’, the third of the four singles for the album. The gang deliver their unmistakable sound on this one: ripping harmonised guitar riffs, demonic screams and angelic cleans, a hooky chorus, and an ‘earth-shaking’ breakdown featuring huge bends and haunting melodies. ‘Bleed Together’ is next up and was the second single the band dropped. The lyrics cover parent-child relationships, and the parents want to protect the child. The topic doesn’t stop the boys from getting brutal though, and the song packs a lot into the 4:30 minute track length. It has a memorable pre-chorus featuring both vocalists, Ryan Neff soothing “and now I’m rewriting history” before Levi Benton unleashes “Please let the apple fall far from the tree”. A highlight is the absolute gut-puncher of a breakdown; one of my favourites from the album.
Harmonised shredding guitars and dualling vocals. ‘Into Oblivion’ features one of the epicist intros to a song I’ve heard in a while. The momentum continues through the verses with tremolo-picked guitar riffage, backed by pounding double kicks which flow into a chorus worthy of stadiums. I couldn’t help yelling “INTOOO OBLIVIOOON” every time that post-chorus came around either. Miss May I went in on this track, treating listeners’ ears to a chunky riffdown that’s sure to snap a few necks, a solo that will inspire some air guitar, and of course, a breakdown that hits you in the face like a shovel. I hope this one features in their setlists.
Miss May I continue to assault ears with the next track ‘Hollow Vessel’. B. J. Stead and Justin Aufdemkampe leading the charge on this one with some blistering guitar riffage, that gets grooved-up the second-time through by Jerod Boyd dropping back into a half-time beat. The band then unite for some syncopated guitar chugs and drum kicks before dropping into another anthemic chorus. This time though, Ryan Neff and Levi Benton go back and forth between their respective soaring clean vocals and demonic screams. Quick melodic guitar solo, pre-breakdown, massive guitar bend? Check, check and check. KO’d by breakdown that follows? CHECK.
The fourth and final single from the album, ‘Free Fall’ follows. Covering the theme of imposter syndrome, this track is the anthem for those who pushed through their fear and took that leap. The song features everything fans want from a Miss May I song: blazing guitar riffs, diabolic vocals, a sing-along chorus and a devastating breakdown. Levi Benton wails “I took the leap, this is my free fall” and seems to be encouraging listeners to do the same, asking “WHOS COMING WITH ME?”
‘Born Destroyer’ is up next and opens with a very melodic guitar lead that hits with full force after the short lo-fi intro. This track is probably the most like the ‘Deathless’ and ‘Shadow Inside’ era of Miss May I and seems to be more chorus oriented than the other tracks on the album. It has an extended, chuggy heavy pre-chorus, the bigger, more sing-along actual chorus, and a heavy-ish post-chorus. Despite the odd song structure, it is still a decent song, albeit the weakest of the album in my opinion.
‘Unconquered’ is the first single from the album and was the ball-tearer that let the world know Miss May I was back and weren’t messing around. The intro builds and drops into a bit of a two-step feel before B. J. Stead and Justin Aufdemkampe let rip a couple of utterly sick riffs through the verses. Ryan Neff delivers some soaring vocals during quite a chuggy chorus. The band then deliver one of the longest build-ups on the album that drops into a massively riffy breakdown. Levi Benton’s vocal delivery here is on point, and something about him screaming “THIS LIFE IS MINE FOR THE TAKING” gives me chills every time. This song is my personal favourite of the album.
One of the gnarliest harmonic-based guitar riffs I’ve heard opens ‘Savior of Self’. The one has a very end of the world type feeling, and Levi Benton delivers on this yelling “Set the world on fire!”. The band syncs up for some huge, syncopated guitar chugs and drum kicks, complemented by some shreddy guitar leads during the verses. Miss May I settle into another anthemic chorus, this one a bit more haunting than the rest. That gnarly harmonic guitar riff kicks in once more before the band cut into a colossal breakdown to close out the song. The haunting vibe continues with ‘Bloodshed’ as backing choir vocals kick in and sing the song’s melody over heavy chugging guitars. Jerod Boyd matches the guitar chugs with kicks before smashing out a massive drum fill. Shortly after guitarists B. J. Stead and Justin Aufdemkampe will get heads nodding with a very groovy riff throughout the verse. Levi Benton joins Ryan Neff for some dualling vocals in a slower but very epic-feeling chorus. The boys get heavy with one last breakdown. This one doesn’t destroy souls but still hits hard. Levi Benton bellows “FAREWELLLL” as that haunting choir vocal melody kicks back in to close out the album.
So have Miss May I returned to ‘Monument’ form with ‘Curse of Existence’? I think it is as close as they have been. The boys have got a bit more aggressive overall, the guitar riffage is a bit more furious, the chorus’ are huge, and there is no shortage of gigantic breakdowns. The band certainly ain’t breaking any new barriers but I think they’ve taken everything they’ve learnt over the years and put it together to create one hell of a modern metalcore album. I’ll be spinning this one for a while!
Miss May I – Curse Of Existence tracklisting:
- A Smile That Does Not Exist
- Earth Shaker
- Bleed Together
- Into Oblivion
- Hollow Vessel
- Free Fall
- Born Destroyer
- Savior of Self