Sound — 9
Memphis May Fire is back with their third full length album, "Challenger". One of the first impressions I got off of this album is that it is a great mix of their previous two full length albums, "Sleepwalking" and "The Hollow". They step it up a notch with lower tuned guitars, deeper growls, and breakdowns. "Challenger" is a more personal album for Memphis May Fire, with songs such as "Miles Away" telling the story of lead singer Matty Mullins, his wife, and touring. It has only been a year since the release of their sophomore album, "The Hollow" but Memphis May Fire matures in almost every aspect with "Challenger". 01. "Without Walls" - A great intro song that is short but packs a mean punch. While the formula for this song is used a lot these days (Piano riff, followed by chanting, followed by heavy guitars), it excels in each of these variables to make a fantastic introductory song. 02. "Alive In The Lights" - This song makes sure that you don't try to take a breather after "Without Walls". It starts with a blast of heavy guitar, screams, and follows with a great mix of piano/heavy guitar that is very prominent in the rest of the album. Also has a great southern flair to that many fans of their older material will enjoy. This song goes up, down, up, down, and brings it right to the middle so you can catch your breath. 03. "Prove Me Right" - A powerful song that reflects the band's past issue with their previous label. Intermediate Guitar riffs with a great mix of clean vocals and scream vocals, this song is overall a great experience. The most noticeable thing about this song is the use of the bass guitar during the breakdowns. 04. "Red In Tooth & Claw" - This one is for the fans of their older material. A face melting southern riff followed by a hectic ensemble of guitar, screams, and drums. This song shows the power and skill of Matty Mullin's clean vocals. There is a hint of deeper growls from Matty that is a welcomed addition. 05. "Vices" - Swelling with an amazing guitar riff that skips strings and changes rhythm, the band wants you to know that this the headlining song of the album. I love the "crawling" riff right before the chug breakdown around 30 seconds into the song. Major kudos to the drums in this song. Be cautious about Matty's growl in this song, you might get knocked off your chair. 06. "Legacy" - My favorite song off the album. The intro riffs swells up and then you are smacked in the face with screams, drums, and guitar. This song has a great combo of piano + chug breakdowns + screams that makes is truly unique. Also who doesn't love the little emphasis of Egyptian sounding riffs in this song? This is also one of the most misleading songs off the album. It slows down with a slow but beautiful guitar riff and slow vocals only to hit you in the face with a pitch change growl and breakdown. 07. "Miles Away" - This song slows it down and lets you take a breather. It has a great southern guitar in the background while Matty beautiful sings about his relationship with his wife. A very personal song that will make you have major respect for what bands have to go through. Also Kellin Quinn's guest vocals are a great addition to the song. 08. "Jezebel" - Probably the most brutal lyrics out of the whole album. This song has a great mix of string skipping riffs, chugs with a piano in the background, and catchy verses. This song lets you know that Memphis May Fire add more substance and depth to their chugs. There are some parts of this song that I feel are out of place, but it's still a great hard song. 09. "Losing Sight" - Fans will recognize this song from their studio update (bass vocals, anyone?). Featuring Danny Worsnop from Asking Alexandria, this song tells the story for both singers in this song. It's a cool touch that shows you that the effort that went into making this album. 10. "Generation: Hate" - Matty slows down the Vocals for this song at the beginning but then follows with a breakdown reminiscing of "Been There, Done That" and adds a great clean vocals + chug chorus after. This song slows down to prepare for the last track of the album. 11. "Vessels" - Fully instrumental. Reminds me of "The Burden"... This song has a beautiful and quiet piano that plays out through the whole song. This is a great closure song that will let you reflect on the album and get you excited for what the future holds in store for Memphis May Fire. This song really hit me for some reason.
Lyrics — 9
"Challenger" relates more to the individuals of the band and their life stories. I related more to "The Hollow" but that was the primary purpose of the lyrics on that album. "The Hollow" focused more on experiences that everyone can relate to, while "Challenger" focuses more on experiences that everyone in the band can relate to. But regardless, the lyrics on this album can still reach out and reflect many listeners. My favorite line off the album has to be from "Without Walls" while simple, it packs a great punch and I can relate a lot to it. "The mistakes we made along the way. This is who we are! These are the roads We paved and now I've had enough of your judgement. You pass it so easily. If you think that I take it to heart now you see This is my design. You don't know the cost. So I'll keep my faith & you can stay lost. Who is With me!?" The lyrics are heavy when the music heavy, calm when the music is calm, and shows a level of sincerity and creativity that forces you to listen to it more than once to understand its meaning. Matty has matured as a vocalist. Showing a great range of cleans as always, but now showing a great range of grows and high screams that we have not seen from him before. While some might be turned off by his "high" pitched singing, I personally believe it is perfect.
Overall Impression — 10
Memphis May Fire shows through "Challenger" that they are one of the most skilled musicians out there today. Only a year after the release of "The Hollow", "Challenger" steps up the game in every aspect. It has something for everyone who enjoys the genre. "Challenger" rises Memphis May Fire to the top, and I doubt they will be coming down from there for a while.