Memphis May Fire


Written by: PP on 28/08/2012 05:39:30

It's ironic that Memphis May Fire have titled their third album "Challenger" for two reasons. One, they belong to the group of 'new' scene bands that rose to popularity alongside the continued success/verbatim (depending on your point of view) of Rise Records and the subsequence resurgence of the metalcore and post-hardcore scenes, so naturally they are one of the challengers against the old guard in the genres. Secondly, and this is more important, it is the first record I've heard from that very same group that very seriously challenges the idea that only the original bands in metalcore and post-hardcore were able to write brilliant, genre-defining albums and everyone else after that are essentially derivate copycats of existing bands. "Challenger", then, is a serious dark horse contender for one of the best albums this year because it comes from such an unlikely source, and is without a doubt the strongest Memphis May Fire album to date. Here's why.

While "Challenger" doesn't necessarily turn the genre upside down or even offer anything particularly groundbreaking, it is a great album because it uses existing ideas and techniques, improving them in almost all aspects. "Challenger" poses a theatrical expression that's packed with dramatic choruses and colossal soundscapes, but yet it doesn't feel artificially inflated nor overproduced. The songs are just that big, containing bombastic structures that balance evenly between heavy metalcore riffage and conventional post-hardcore rhythms, whether in the form of racy riffs or blinding scales. The band thus continues to build on their hybrid sound that sits effectively just in between the two genres, mostly thanks to their vocalist Matty Mullins, who owns a set of fantastic pipes that he isn't afraid to use throughout the record even though he pushes the band decisively into post-hardcore territory with his emo-esque clean vocals. His work is simply impossibly catchy all of the time, and every song has a chorus that's distinct and original, instead of just rehashing the same melody song after song. I can't recall the last time I would've heard a post-hardcore chorus as refreshing and maddeningly catchy as that on "Vices" or on "Alive In The Light" without instantly thinking "where have I heard this before". So while Anthony Green projects have certainly been an influence, here Mullins opts for a more sensible approach than the usual clones and sings and octave or two lower, to the great benefit of the songs.

And this is the magic that Memphis May Fire do throughout "Challenger". Despite relying on many a tried-and-tested formula, whether a predictably timed breakdown or technologically infused production, they succeed in all fronts and deliver with "Challenger" a record I didn't think was possible to write anymore in metalcore or post-hardcore: one without a single bad track on the album, and one with some of the most anthemic, most catchy songs that underscore why the style became popular in the first place. An instant genre classic.

Download: Vices, Prove Me Right, Alive In The Light,
For the fans of: The Word Alive, Of Mice & Men, The Color Morale, Hands Like Houses
Listen: Facebook

Release date 26.06.2012
Rise Records

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