Packed with a desire to create brutality mixed with an underlying sense of passion and a desire to create enough massive hooks and sing-along moments to light up at least the main stage of any Warped Tour, Memphis May Fire find themselves sounding more focused on Challenger and more on course to make what essentially is the definitive album of this new wave of metalcore.
As you may imagine then, this isn't really an album that comes with surprises. By the time we reach Vices, it's immediately obvious that we're never too far away from a breakdown or a sudden jolt of surprisingly effective death growls from frontman Matty Mullins. However, even with these "metalcore cliches" if you will, there's an undeniable sense of freshness to be found throughout the set of songs. Perhaps this is in the clean cut production of Cameron Mizell, whose work in such attributes as mixing riffs from Kellen McGregor and new axeman Anthony Sepe with a range of soothing electronic and dramatic orchestral backdrops makes the set of songs so much more exciting, with buildups into songs creating a greater awe to encompass the music.
Perhaps, the overall sense of excitement and refreshment within the band that has come with changes in lineup and various other attributes has refreshed the band to create some of their most furious and energetic songs while the sparks of the songs are burning bright. Honestly, it's been a while since breakdowns in this musical context have sounded so breathtaking.
Of course, it's not all mindless breakdowns. The band have time for more variation, which comes out most effectively on ballad Miles Away, a performance that serves as highly absorbing that calls for a massive response of empathy throughout it's course. And I even say this being aware of the guest appearance from Sleeping With Sirens' Kellin Quinn lending guest vocals. Following Quinn's appearance on Pierce the Veil's King for a Day, I would ave been totally fine with never listening to his voice again, yet on this album, it sounds so much more controlled and tolerable and genuinely does nothing to ruin the song.
Likewise, there is little effect that comes from guest vocals from previously aforementioned Danny Worsnop on Losing Sight. While the song is perfect for Worsnop's hell scratching screams, his contribution doesn't really make the song a unique force. Of course at this point, we're left asking that if there was really any point of Memphis May Fire roping in guest vocalists. little difference is made.
Perhaps the notion of getting guest singers seems wrong as Challenger feels like a Memphis May Fire made square on with 100% genuineness and total passion to become the most prolific name of the NWOAMM. Indeed, the formula of the songs on board aren't exactly original, but they are practiced with more energy and passion that can right now only be matched by The Word Alive who have proved themselves to be frankly unbeatable. However, Challenger has clearly been made with high levels of ambition and if the full sense of ambition on the album is reflected by the album's actual reaction, then it will become the definitive album of this wave of metalcore above all others.
Memphis May Fire's Challenger is out now via Rise. The band will tour the UK in October with Of Mice & Men and Secrets.