Billed as a progressive metalcore band, this means that on Mai we get 43 minutes of heavy stop-start belligerence mixed with elements of modern progressive metal spread out over 11 tracks. The end result is music that mixes aggression and emotion well to achieve a balanced style of modern heaviness.
The songs are well-written and contain plenty of hooks and memorable sections. Elements of progressive metal, metalcore, modern metal, and djent are all plundered by the band and used for their own purposes as the album unfolds. Keyboards and expressive ambience are just as much a part of Windrunner as the riffs and beats, and they use this part of their music well to craft songs that have the feel of modern epics with cinematic scope.
The mix of heavy/light and beauty/beast has, of course, been done to death, and yet Windrunner still manage to avoid sounding completely stale or tired. This is a credit to their songwriting and delivery skills, but also to the obvious passion they have imbued this album with.
The vocalist’s singing voice is expansive and carries a weight of emotive qualities. However, when she screams and roars she’s equally as effective and overall her performance is a damn good one. A couple of guest vocalists show up early in the album too, each adding something to the songs they are on.
The album’s production walks the line between overproduced shininess and more of a solid metallic meatiness that works in the music’s favour.
Featuring a beguiling blend of accessibility, instant gratification, and surprising substance, Mai is a quality album that shows there’s still life in the modern metalcore genre yet.
A firmly recommended listen for any fan of this sort of modern music.