ARTIST: MEMPHIS MAY FIRE
LABEL: RISE RECORDS
WORDS: CERYN SARA
Memphis May Fire return for our listening pleasure this Friday with the release of their sixth studio album, ‘Broken’, via Rise Records. The Dallas four piece have “broken” a year’s silence since the release of ‘Virus’, last June and, much like the one-off single, the album takes on a more radio-friendly sound in comparison to their previous releases. With the release of ‘Virus’, frontman Matty Mullins told fans to expect a “whole new flavour” from MMF that has come with the “natural evolution of the band”.
Taking in to consideration the bands numerous line-up changes, this “natural evolution” is to be expected and, while this new ‘radio-rock’ approach is certainly on trend for the genre, MMF have struggled to make the transition without losing their trademark sound. There are a few catchy songs on the album that will no doubt sound even better during a live set and, Mullins does burst into a few screams here and there but, the majority of the album is almost subdued, particularly in the vocal department with more clean vocals than ever. To their credit though, lyrically the album is strong; each track tells a story that we can all relate to in our own way. Certainly, where the instrumentation lacks in emotion and drive, the lyrics make up for tenfold.
“Mullins told fans to expect a “whole new flavour” from MMF”
The band debuted the album’s opening track ‘The Old Me’ back in September in which Mullins vocalises his on-going battle with anxiety and depression. Mullins explains it as feeling like “a war between good and evil, loathing the person I become mentally when it consumes me, and trying to remember what life was like before I lived with the symptoms. Ultimately hoping to one day become that person — ‘The Old Me’— again.” The culmination of relevant and powerful lyrics along with heavy guitars, a typical MMF breakdown and catchy chorus sets off the album to an energetic start.
In the second half of the album the band move away from typical and into unchartered territory, experimenting with a rap verse two minutes into the track ‘Heavy is the Weight’. Already this has been met with a mixture of appraise and confusion from critics. While it is undoubtedly a bold move and a sign that the band have obviously worked hard and experimented with different genres on this record, it could have been implemented better as the abrupt change feels out of place and takes away from the power of the songs overall statement. The penultimate track ‘You and Me’ more than makes up for this lack of emotion, however. There’s one thing you can always rely on with MMF and that is that they do slow songs very well. This track is a lovely listen, with heavily relatable lyrics and moody minor tones that put you right in Mullins’ headspace.
“each track tells a story that we can all relate to in our own way.”
All in all, ‘Broken’ is a mishmash of strong, emotion heavy crowd pleasers, misplaced experimentation and watered down fillers. It feels rushed in places yet fine-tuned in others with its strongest tracks placed (perhaps strategically) at the beginning and end of the track listing. The lyrics are strong throughout but their power is lost in places by the tracks’ neutralised sound.
Despite the growing love or hate reception of Memphis May Fire’s ever-evolving sound, ‘Broken’ assures us that they are “Never backing down, our time is now.” Whether or not that is true will be determined by the album’s success following its official release. Memphis May Fire will hit the road this Autumn in the USA, touring with Atreyu and Ice Nine Kills.