Coming back strong with their second full-length Texas based MEMPHIS MAY FIRE has delivered on their earlier promise with their new album The Hollow. Playing a blend of melodic metalcore among other influences they have a little something for fans of several different sub-genres of metal. They certainly are technical and heavy enough for the hardcore dudes and catchy enough for their girlfriends. In the end that is a lofty goal that many bands strive for, but few reach.
Opening with the “The Sinner” the band announces their intent to rock your package right off your crotch from the get go. After a few seconds of industrial ear candy the scorching guitars and drums kick in and just destroy. When the chorus kicks in Matty Mullins‘ splendid voice just soars over the chaos. The result is beautiful and chill inducing at the same time. The uptempo chug of the verses makes for a nice contrast to the half-time feel later on. There is also some interesting keyboards/programming going on through this track that give it an uncommon character for metalcore these days. Second track “The Unfaithful” starts off with the chorus up front (mental note: I’ve been listening to so much extreme death metal, I almost forgot bands still do this) and is almost jarringly saccharine pop. Pretty soon the song gets down to business and the verse is sick! Matty truly has a gift for his flick of the switch heavy/not heavy vocals and he is ably backed by jack of all trades lead guitarist/singer Kellen McGregor. Delving slightly into modern rock anthem territory at the end the song, it took me a few listens to really feel it. Third cut “The Victim” might be the best of the bunch here with all of their influences thrown together in this kitchen sink-type affair. Usually this approach only works for a chosen few, but these guys actually pull it off. Credit also goes to the production talents of Cameron Mizell (I SEE STARS, JAMIE’S ELSEWHERE) who manages to keep everything properly balanced in the mix and minds what I like to call “aural legibility”. On the fourth cut “The Abandoned” is another gem moment. The guitar work from both McGregor and Ryan Bentley is majestic and calls to mind the better work of THE HUMAN ABSTRACT. The drumming by Jake Garland on this track is also a standout and he is strong throughout. The song also has an excellent keyboard part that will remind you of WINDS OF PLAGUE or BORN OF OSIRIS.
At about the halfway point of the album it dawns on me that MMF is going for a concept album here based on song title structure and lyrics, but not so much connected musically. In fact the songs on the second half of the album start too sound repetitive in form. Aside from the almost-thrash moments of “The Commanded” most of the remaining songs followed suit like dominoes. There is no questioning their talents or inventiveness when it comes to putting a track together. They definitely avoid traps their peers do not like having too many breakdowns or falling into bass drop hell which I do appreciate. Still, there is no denying these guys will impress a lot of ears, light up a lot of stages and I feel like we will be hearing from them again in the future.