Best of 2016 Playlist

December 22, 2016

Memphis May Fire - "This Light I Hold" Review

Memphis May Fire's new album rocks, that's all that needs to be said to describe it. Pulling out new tricks, as well as some old ones to deliver an album that will go definitely appear on a few best of the year lists. 

Click this (link) to buy the album on iTunes. And be sure to catch the band on tour with The Devil Wears Prada this fall. 

**This was supposed to be posted on November 7**

They've learned from past mistakes, thank whatever deity you chose to believe in (or not believe in). Ya, Matty Mullins went a little overboard with all the Christian metal on the last album. It's alright to share you beliefs, but there were moments where "Unconditional" felt like we were watching one of those "paid for" TV spots on religion at 4 am. Thankfully he dialed it back, so songs aren't so preachy and self-righteous. 

Featuring more guitar solos and more unclean vocals, this is one killer album. While it doesn't quite reach the heights set by songs like "Prove Me Right" or "Alive in the Lights", but it does surpass the band's previous album, "Unconditional". The "southern charm" has left the band's music, which in hindsight is probably a decision for the better. And if it's any consolation, MMF have brought back some of their older tricks for this record. 

Lead single, "Carry On", showcases Mullin's writing talents as well as Kellen McGregor's lead guitar chops. The band give us another example of how they're moving away from their original style of metal. Which in this case is a plus, as the band has evolved into modern metalcore royalty. 

Track by Track Review -

1) "Out Of It" - 8 to 8.5/10 
An eerie ending, this song seems like it should be the theme song for a comic book villain from the 90s. It's industrial metal done MMF style. Another way of putting it might be MMF's take on Motionless in White. From the "spooky" electronics to the overall vibe you get from the song, it's an aggressive and powerful opening for the album. Setting the tone immediately, you know this record is going to be full of angst and uneasy emotions. 

2) "Carry On" - 8/10 (Click this link to read our full review)

3) "Wanting More" - 8.5/10
A song that seems out of MMF's comfort zone, but that gamble pays off. This song takes the cake as the standout on the record, if only because it was something fans could never have expected. You can plainly hear the band pulling from the more theatrical side of metal. The chorus in particular is a standout for the record. It sounds like it could have been taken straight from Get Scared's "Demons" or New Years Day's "Malevolence". The groove in the verses, and the strong piano backing make this the band's most grandiose tracks yet. The build up to the pre-chorus and then the breakdown, are superb. 

4) "Sever The Ties" - 7.5 to 8/10 
Immediately brutal, this song is what fans have been asking for. Memphis May Fire show they aren't afraid to go heavy, and we mean really heavy. Arguably one of the heaviest tracks the band has put forth thus far. It's a guilty pleasure, because while it is heavy, it doesn't offer much. Formulaic, and "safe" as far as the usual lyrical themes go, it's still a great listen.

5) "The Enemy" - 6.5/10
A filler track, that's really all that can be said. This song doesn't seem to have any other purpose. The riff is solid, and Mullin's vocals are harsh, but the chorus is such a let down. You don't slow things down, you ramp them up. The band did mix in some strong orchestration behind their slower chorus, so points to them for that. But the bridge knocks down a few more points, as they do their usual "build up to the chorus" thing. Almost exactly as they have on previous tracks like "No Ordinary Love" and "Beneath The Skin". 

6) "This Light I Hold" - 7.5 to 8/10
The guest spots from Jacoby Shaddix are unneccessary, but otherwise this song is strong where others are weak. Finding a good balance between the clean vocals and the unclean, the title track pairs very nicely with existing tracks like "No Ordinary Love" and "Jezebel". But again, Shaddix's verses don't add anything to the song. The hook is great, and Jake Garland's drumming here is one of the highlights from the album. The positives outweigh the negatives in this case, giving us a great song to put on replay. 

7) "That's Just Life" - 6.5 to 7/10
Kinda a half and half for most listeners. It's a pleasant surprise to hear the band going for the "southern" acoustic vibe on the track. On the other side, the lyrics of the song couldn't be more cut and copy. The level of passion and soul found on the acoustic version of "Need to Be" is seriously lacking as well. And in a bizarre twist, especially considering who the producer for this album was, the vocals are actually underwhelming. The acoustic guitar is front and center when it should be, and when Mullin's voice should be. In the end the track comes off as a bit forced and "made in studio". 

8) "Letting Go" - 6.5 to 7/10
The heavily electronic intro is lost on the rest of this track. If you're going to start with those kind of electronics, keep them going throughout the rest of the song. As the full intro kicks in, they're shoved to the background. If this had been a purely electronic track, which backing from the typical instruments, then this might have been that moment MMF broke away from the blueprint. The melodic and almost sluggish chorus, full of lyrics we've heard a million times before, isn't quite what one can imagine the band wanted it to be. 

9) "The Antidote" - 7.5/10
One of the first songs to feature "Whoas", and it's not as cheesy as you might think. The song's driven, and nonstop in its delivery. A much needed energy boost after the two previous tracks. "The Antidote" also features a strong guitar solo, something we thought we'd see a lot more of considering how it's been used in previous songs like "My Generation", "Stay the Course", and "Carry On". 

10) "Better Things" - 7/10
Just as "The Antidote" brings back hope the album will pick up some of its lost momentum, this track brings us back down. It's more of the same MMF. So think of it what you will. Familiar territory is nice, but this is the band's 5th album. We hold them to a higher caliber and standard. Another guilty pleasure track at the end of the day. 

11) "Not Over Yet" - 6/10
A pale copy of "Beneath The Skin", and then the band go and throw in Larry Soliman's vocals for no reason. The song has a nice message, but its delivery is so cliche and typical one may find themselves cringing a few times. Seems like the entire second half of this record was half assed. The bad drops the ball on this track, big time. If you want to listen to some "hopecore" try The Color Morale (whose delivery is less cringe worthy and a better listen)

12) "Unashamed" - 6.5 to 7/10
Again, the band uses a strong electronic intro to no effect. The instrumentals, which have been strong thus far, are weakest on this track. The slow down and tone down for the bridge is completely pointless. If it was to give Mullins' vocals more punch, it didn't work. Then a quick build up to another breakdown, what a shocker. The chorus is the saving grace for an otherwise filler song. 

13) "Live It Well" - 7.5 to 8/10
The closing track ends on a much higher note than the rest of the album. MMF balance the melodic, and rhythmic perfectly. Orchestration could have been utilized more, then again so could the heavier moments. Regardless, this song ends the record on a positive note compared to the preceding tracks. Still fairly blueprinted, "Live It Well" strays enough that we're content with the final result. The little "spoken word" thing at the end is a nice touch, however unneccessary. 


"This Light I Hold" starts out strong, until the halfway mark. And then everything starts to fall apart. Make no mistake, this record is strong and consistent throughout. But the consistency stems from the formulaic song structure, garbled vocals and the boring lyrics.true to one's identity is important but showing how you've changed in important as well. Amidst similar artists like We Came as Romans, Asking Alexandria, and label-mates Crown the Empire, Memphis May Fire don't stray from the pack enough for this album to really leave a lasting impression. A pity, because if this album had that extra wow factor it would probably be on our "Best of 2016" list. MMF will need to bring their A-game for album #6 if they want to really impress listeners. 

Favorite Tracks -

No question, "Out Of It", "Carry On", "Wanting More", steal the show. 

Average Rating - 7.3/10

Rating Breakdown  -