Review Summary: Armed with a new vocalist and a reinvented instrumental structure, Memphis May Fire may very well have created their breakout album that could launch them into fame. Here's to hoping MTV doesn't get a whiff of this.
Memphis May Fire is a southern post hardcore band. Prior to "Sleepwalking" which is their first full length, they had released a self-titled EP. With a new album, and new musical direction, and a new singer, MMF is poised to prove that they don't plan to blend in with every other band in the scene.
While promising, the self-titled was painfully by the numbers and left a lot to be desired. It did have a few things going for it, namely some decent instrumentation and a unique vocalist. It was hindered by it's short length, predictable formula, and while often well done, the vocals could become grating, particularly in the clean passages. MMF also claimed that there was a southern edge to their music, though on the EP, this was hardly the case. With "Sleepwalking," they take all of the promise from their self-titled, capitalized on it, and put out a surprisingly good release.
Although the vocalist is new, he certainly bears resemblance to the old one, with high pitched vocals that are well done and on key. The screams are vastly improved as well. This album also delivers on the promise of packing a southern edge. The guitars are distinct, varied, and stray far from the typical chugging of similar acts, and weave seamlessly around the other band elements with some excellent leads and melodies that are unmistakably southern rock tinged.
Opening with North Atlantic Vs. North Carolina
, MMF wastes no time in showing off the fact that they know how to play their guitars. The opening riff carries the song into one of its poppiest moments, and the vocalist easily switches between singing and screaming, utilizing both at appropriate times with more than enough ability.
The album really hits its stride with You're Lucky Its Not 1962
, which showcases the band's capability in playing harder rock right alongside the pop based songs. This is yet another song that has a hard southern rock feel to it. The song climaxes with a slow bridge that leads into an entertaining breakdown.
Quantity Is Their Quality
is the seemingly mandatory "socially conscious" track that normally is the pitfall of an album, plagued with cheesy lyrics and preachy douche-baggery. The odd thing is, this isnt a pit fall... by any means. This is one of the best tracks. Starting out heavy and meandering out into clean vocals layered over tremolo picked guitar, which is carried to the end with a downtuned solo that stands out enough without overtaking the other instrument's presence.
The Name With No Face
is yet another highlight, boasting the most powerful and raw screaming on the album. When that's paired with some nice guitar lines and an intricate solo, the song becomes built into possibly MMF's best song to date. The clean singing meshes with the screaming in on-off fashion that somehow feels fresh and entertaining, despite its overuse in most other bands.
If Maylene and the Sons of Disaster's new album was up your alley, then this surely will provide some entertainment. A huge improvement over the EP, and showcasing just how easily a mediocre band can turn into a force to be reckoned with in the scene, "Sleepwalking" is an essential buy for anyone remotely interested in this music genre.