Did you know there was a new Memphis May Fire album dropping this Friday? *crickets chirping* Yeah, same here. The metalcore band that once made solid records like Sleepwalking and The Hollow have instead attempted to enter the mainstream rock world – and while plenty of bands have released albums that transitioned successfully (Restoring Force, SANDPIT TURTLE, and I Prevail), Memphis May Fire simply haven’t been one of them, at least musically.
Trying new musical ideas is something that great bands do. Remember the first time you heard the synths on “Can You Feel My Heart”, or even Like Moths To Flames finally switching things up on “Nowhere Left To Sink” from last year’s Dark Divine? Bold choices like those may have shocked their fanbases, but also enabled them to avoid stagnation. Instead, the “boldest” new idea here is a completely out of place rap verse on “Heavy Is The Weight”. It’s clearly shoehorned into the song for some reason, turning what was a decent cut into one one of the worst Memphis May Fire songs, period. Compared to other bands that have transitioned into more “rock” territory, most of the songs feel dull by comparison. Matty Mullins is a decent vocalist here, but his voice isn’t utilized to its full potential.
That’s not to say that the band isn’t capable of good music. Initial single “The Old Me” wouldn’t sound out of place on a Skillet or Breaking Benjamin tour, but when (inexplicably, the only song released from the record so far) “The Old Me” is the album standout, things are looking grim. “You and Me” also manages to not be too bad. However, most regrettably, guitarist Kellen McGregor isn’t given enough room to shine, and considering his talent, flashy guitar work could have boosted this record.
“Broken” is an easy way to sum up the state of Memphis May Fire in 2018. Even their last two records, while not approaching the levels of their previous work, still had a couple standout tracks on each. Sadly, on Broken, it all feels so banal, recorded only to fill a contractual obligation. Few things are worse than seeing a band stuck in the mud, so to speak. Because Broken isn’t an irredeemable album – but with plenty of rock and metal challengers putting out innovative and interesting material now (I’m looking at you, Vein and Vespera), there’s little excuse.
When you lose touch with your fanbase, that’s a bad sign. That’s not to say Broken is a terrible record – with better lyrics, this album could have been at least a decent effort. It feels hollow instead, sounding like dated mid-2000’s radio rock with liberal use of power chords. 6 albums into their career shouldn’t put Memphis May Fire into a downward spiral. The (mediocre) voice of a generation, indeed.