For Fans Of
The first and only time that I’ve seen Memphis May Fire live was on tour with Parkway Drive, The Word Alive, and Thy Art Is Murder last year at Festival Hall in Melbourne. And I distinctly remember Memphis May Fire’s set being really average. Sure, everything was tight, the band played well, nothing crazy bad happened on-stage, and they had plenty of their fans in attendance. Yet there was just nothing that leapt out at me, both performance-wise and musically speaking. There just wasn’t anything that engaging or that interesting to be found in their live show. Which is funny, as my thoughts on that set returned recently, but this time they found their crosshairs set on the band’s latest and fifth album overall, ‘This Light I Hold’.
Ever since their 2007 self-titled EP (‘Cowbell’s Makin’ A Comeback’ is still an utter fuckin’ jam) and after their damn solid debut full-length, ‘Sleepwalking’, I admit that I gave up on the Texas group. 2011’s ‘The Hollow’ was okay, 2012’s ‘Challenger’ was also… fine, if just more of the same, and I didn’t even bother with 2014’s ‘Unconditional‘ by that point in the loveless, rarely platonic relationship I have with this band. But now two years on we have ‘This Light I Hold’, and it’s just as one would expect from Memphis May Fire. Which is to say a typical metalcore mix and production style, poppy and hooky melodies, palm-muted guitar riffs, handfuls of decent yet repetitive breakdowns, a mixture of decent clean singing and screaming courtesy of vocalist Matty Mullins; all wrapped up in his “motivational” and “inspiring” lyrics about the external world and himself internally.
However. That’s. Just. Fucking. It.
There are no musical, production or stylistic curveballs to be found on ‘This Light I Hold‘, it’s just the same old Memphis May Fire carrying on the same old generic metalcore torch they have for the past five or so years now. There’s zero progression here. And honestly, how the hell is that thing even still lit? The Southern twang and grit of their earlier releases are well and truly dead within their sound by now, with no sign of it returning anytime soon, which is a real shame. It was left by the wayside in favour of an overly derivative metalcore sound that the band (and many of their peers) have since already perfected, which results in this new album feeling like an unnecessary, obnoxious victory lap that no one asked for. Well, you know, excluding the legions of fans that wanted it, but they’re already miles down the rabbit hole and aren’t coming back up for fresh air anytime soon.
But hey, not all is lost. The decent title track, the vicious, heavy opener of ‘Out Of It‘, the self-aware lyrics of ‘Carry On‘, and the slower, ballad-like ‘That’s Just Life‘ were indeed solid moments for the record, and MMF is at the very least consistent in their delivery and their sound. But the problem is that the consistency initially found here gives way to at the worst, vast monotony, and at the least, bland metalcore far too quickly. I can just tell that many will be skimming over their iTunes and/or Spotify playlists while listening to this record, desperately searching for something more interesting, something better, after only a couple songs in. And considering that there are actually 13 songs here means that you’ll be drowning in mediocrity for a long while, from ‘Carry On‘ right up to album closer ‘Live It Well‘. Shit, not even the guest vocal features from Papa Roach’s Jacob Shadix or My American Heart’s Larry Soliman can improve matters here.
When it comes to any and all reviews that I do, I usually listen to the album in question around eight to ten times just so I can really digest the music and help flesh out my own thoughts on it. And that’s regardless of whether I love or hate the record. However, with ‘This Light I Hold‘, three listens through was I all I needed to do to gather my thoughts and move on to finish writing this review, as there’s just fuck all to talk about here! Of course, I could’ve simply taken the cowards way out and just not written any of this, but to hell with that; I felt that you all should know how utterly average this album is. You’re most certainly welcome.
A single listen through ‘This Light I Hold’ will take up more or less 40 minutes of your time, and what you’ll find within that time frame is a dull and average release; nothing more, nothing less. I could say something about the metalcore/post-hardcore aficionados and Memphis May Fire fans lapping this one up to no end, but that just goes without bloody saying. Which leaves me at a loss here, without much else to say in this conclusion. So, I will leave you with this dumb quote from Donald Trump:
“I had some beautiful pictures taken in which I had a big smile on my face. I looked happy, I looked content, I looked like a very nice person, which in theory I am.” – Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, 2015.
- Out of It
- Carry On
- Wanting More
- Sever the Ties
- The Enemy
- This Light I Hold (feat. Jacoby Shaddix)
- That’s Just Life
- Letting Go
- The Antidote
- Better Things
- Not over Yet (feat. Larry Soliman)
- Live It Well
‘This Light I Hold’ is out now via Rise Records.