MEMPHIS MAY FIRE
Memphis May Fire’s second release through Rise Records, Challenger, is a must-grab. A follow up to the 2011 release, The Hollow, which topped the Billboard Heat Seekers Chart and landed at #109 on the top 200, Challenger is a lyrical journey of human imperfection and inner struggle. Vocalists Kellin Quinn (Sleeping With Sirens) and Danny Worsnop (Asking Alexandria) both make guest appearances on the 11 track album, of which vocalist Matty Mullins claims,
”I’m so stoked to have had two of my best friends sing alongside me on Challenger! Danny & Kellin both really related to the concepts of the songs they appear on & did a great job on their parts!”
Mullins also notes:
“Challenger is a crystal clear representation of our growth as a band. It’s heavier than anything we’ve done before & packed full of the most honest & transparent lyrics I’ve ever written. Our guitarist Kellen McGregor worked side by side with Cameron Mizell for engineering & production on our last record & the response was amazing so it was a no brainer for us to go back to the same formula for this one. It turned out better than we had ever imagined. We’re making a huge statement this time around.”
There has been a terrific amount of effort and thought put into Challenger, and each and every track makes this more evident.
A major highlight of Challenger is the lyrical content. Even though it isn’t as metaphorical as one might expect out of Mullins, the straightforwardness is completely fitting. Every song drives its meaning home, which is exactly what Mullins intended. “Vices” is a track about using alcohol as a crutch and finally realizing how it can turn a person into someone they would have never wanted to be. “Miles Away” touches on the realism of how touring life weighs on Mullins as he is separated from his wife for long periods of time. “Generation: Hate” is simply compelling. It opens our eyes to a pitfall of modern society; how we are quick to criticize and sometimes unwilling to treat each other with the same regards we would expect in return. Other lyrical subjects include: realizing your potential, relationships, personal reflection, the music industry, and more.
Musically, Challenger builds upon Memphis May Fire’s previous releases, The Hollow, and, Sleepwalking. This record clearly establishes their sound. Remembering their roots by bringing back a bit of that “southern swag” and yet showcasing their progression as musicians, individually and as a whole, MMF has taken Challenger to the next level. Guitarist Kellen McGregor’s guitar riffs really shine on this record, except that the mix of the album makes them a bit indistinguishable to a listener who isn’t really focusing on the guitar alone. McGregor definitely brings back some of the “southern” riffing that was very popular on the band’s first full length release, Sleepwalking, and still manages to keep the songs heavy by introducing a lower dropped tuning (G#) than the bands usual tuning (C#).
The drumming on Challenger is very thorough. Honestly, we wouldn’t expect anything less from Jake Garland. Although it is not all too complex, there are some innovative fills scattered throughout the album that are sure to turn many heads. Challenger, from one track to the next, flows well because of Garland’s powerful drumming. The bass in Challenger is also solid, and very evident in songs like “Losing Sight,” where bassist Cory Elder leads a breakdown with that twangy bass tone that sounds absolutely fantastic.
There are only a few minor things that could be better about this album. One is the mix of the guitar, making the lead riffs almost too quiet, more of an emphasis on the lead guitar riffs rather than the rhythm parts in some song would make them even more memorable. A second issue is the similarity of the breakdown patterning throughout the record, which is common in many new releases today, so they shouldn’t be discredited too much.
Vocally, Memphis May Fire really establishes their direction as a band with a far greater focus on singing rather than screaming. This is one of the best aspects of this band. The talent of Mullins vocally allows MMF’s music to shine, with great placement of singing and screaming. Along with an extremely talented group of musicians to accompany Mullins, Challenger needs to be on a playlist near you!
1. Without Walls
2. Alive In The Lights
3. Prove Me Right
4. Red In Tooth And Claw
7. Miles Away (feat. Kellin Quinn)
9. Losing Sight (feat. Danny Worsnop)
10. Generation: Hate
Rob & Tyler’s Top Tracks: “Vices” & “Generation: Hate”
Make sure to check out Memphis May Fire’s Facebook and catch them in concert this summer on the Van’s Warped Tour!
Purchase Challenger on iTunes or anywhere music is sold!
For fans of: The Devil Wears Prada, Of Mice & Men, The Color Morale, etc.