Memphis May Fire

The Hollow

Written by: BL on 03/09/2011 18:18:58

Back in late 2010, Texan metalcore outfit Memphis May Fire released an EP "Between The Lies" to follow up their southern sounding debut "Sleepwalking". Fans charmed from "Sleepwalking" were surprised to find Memphis May Fire moving in both a heavier and more mainstream direction, adding more modern metalcore elements and downsizing their southern sound. It wasn't all bad though as "Between The Lies" was a strong enough effort to keep Memphis May Fire being more than just another mediocre by the numbers band in their new crowd. "The Hollow" is their new second album, and follows in the footsteps of "Between The Lies", so completing their metamorphosis so to speak. This album is almost certainly the heaviest record yet in their discography, and even though they're now playing a more generic drop-tuned style Memphis May Fire still show how to do it better than most.

Instrumentally there's a surprising amount of neat, technical guitar riffs and melodic licks in each song (except for the interlude) which mingles up the action piece to piece from the breakdowns, while the much resented by some new electronics are only mostly background ambience or minor injections that never really force their presence unncessarily. Jake Garland of Broadway (and who is now in both bands) lends his expertise for the drums, and certainly provides a decent rhythm backbone for the guitars. Vocalist Matty Mullins steals the show though with a thoroughly impressive performance, sounding a lot better than he did on the last EP. His screams and growls are more beastly and fierce than ever before, but his smooth and pleasant singing are what drives a lot of the songs and more revealing of his abilities as a vocalist. The album production-wise sounds big and loud, and while it does not detract from the listening experience, at times perhaps too much so - the mixing from producer Cameron Mizell of Chango Studios shows plenty of pretty bells and whistles though when things get too hectic there is some minor clipping in the sound (but Cameron does this on a lot of his recordings).

"The Sinner" and "The Victim" are early highlights that really showcases the new and current Memphis May Fire all guns blazing. The former and opening song is punchy and aggressive but has equal measures of memorable melodies in the singing to make it a solid number, while the latter has some more flavoured guitar leads and vocals, as well as its own indelibly sung middle and end section backed by a simple yet effective fast harmonised lead guitar part. "The Abandoned" might be their catchiest song yet as Matty belts a monster of a chorus that sort of sticks in your mind, where the strong yet straightforward lyrics about being abandoned by a father sort of add extra weight to the words he sings. "The Deceived" has its own nice chorus, though the tunes Matty and the guitars uses are a little more unconventional thanks to small key changes which adds to the variety.

"The Burden" is an interesting interlude song that is towards the last third of the album which has no guitars or any vocal, relying on samples, electronic beats, and a recording of what sounds like a domestic argument between two famly members. While you can't really make out what is being said most of the time (except a lot of "I don't care!") and that the momentum the album was building to this point gets a little spoiled, it's obvious this song is trying to tug at the heart strings of those out there who don't exactly have model relationships with their own loved ones for whatever reason. Things resume once again with "The Haunted" and "The Reality", both having fair share of cool parts like a snazzy breakdown on the former that combines a southern guitar lead with synths and another great chorus on the latter. The last track "The Redeemed" is perhaps less of a critical selling point than what's come before, though the positive and uplifting lyrics seems fitting for a closer.

"The Hollow" is a boisterous and nicely hard hitting record with a strong continuity, while at brief times infectiously unforgettable. Credit should go to the Memphis May Fire for coming up with consistently well thought out tracks which, given the basic elements incorporated, could have easily turned into a dull disaster by less ambitious bands (The new Of Mice & Men sort of comes to mind). It's not going to be the next big thing in metalcore to say the least, but it's definitely worth taking a spin if you like what's already out there.


Download: The Sinner, The Victim, The Abandoned, The Reality
For the fans of: Broadway, The Word Alive, Of Mice & Men, Dead & Divine
Listen: Myspace, Facebook

Release Date 26.04.2011
Rise Records

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