Texan natives Memphis May Fire have returned with their sixth outing, ‘Broken’. Once again favouring melodic hooks over crushing riffs, the album looks towards a continuation of 2016’s ‘This Light I Hold’ rather than catering to fans to their earlier and heavier work à la 2009’s ‘Sleepwalking’.
Lead single ‘The Old Me’ opens up with a meaty groove riff and crashing drums before allowing vocalist Matty Mullins to lead the verse. The structure of the track is subtle, moving from riff variations to palm muting to build towards its climatic chorus of percussive riffs and soaring vocals. For a record that favours Mullin‘s clean vocals, the inclusion of screams in the breakdown of the track adds a welcome deviation to the proceedings.
As ‘Watch Out’ unwinds a juddering guitar riff, it’s not long before vocal variations take charge of the track. With short and snappy vocals carrying the chorus and gang vocals pushing the bridge, Mullins drives the track forward.
That being said, ‘Heavy Is The Weight’ allows space for guitarist Kellen McGregor to steal the show. Favouring clean chords and lingering notes in the verse, the building tension is shattered with crushing distortion on its chorus. From melodic voicing utilised on the solo to the jagged chords during the bridge, McGregor dominates the track.
As we reach the third act of the album, ‘You And Me’ takes a different approach, favouring lingering piano notes and finger picked clean guitars. As synthesized notes add flourishes to Mullins‘ soft voice, the track slowly adds layers, from shuffling hi-hats to gentle distortion. As the layers build to a synth led crescendo, the distortion fades away to a subdued chorus, highlighting the strength of the track’s hook.
Getting straight to it, ‘Mark My Words’ plays with a loose riff and rhythmically broken vocals with an abundance of energy. With the vocals developing increasing amounts of grit, shattering drums kick the chorus into gear. Playing with conventions, the second pre-chorus marries aggressive vocals with soft piano chords, a bold move that drives the impact of the chorus home.
After the distorted overtones of ‘Live Another Day’ fade, ‘Broken’ doesn’t hold the same impact as other albums in the genre. With a sleek production and strong compositional skills providing a solid foundation for the group’s knack for melody, sadly only a handful of cuts will stay with you.