Memphis May Fire
Broken


3.0
good

Review

by Mason USER (58 Reviews)
November 16th, 2018 | 236 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Memphis May Fire moves away from metalcore; results may vary.

While it could be said that the drop-off in this band’s popularity in the mainstream was caused by the band’s music supposedly declining in quality, I’m not sure that’s the case. Memphis May Fire suffered the same fate as plenty other bands in the “scene” demographic, ala Sleeping With Sirens, in that they had a proverbial boom and then fell off shortly after. Unconditional was very successful, peaking at #4 on the Billboard 200 despite being seen as a downgrade from their predecessor. Its follow-up on the other hand, peaked at #42. This falls in line with the trend of “scene bands” having a sort of boom-bust cycle, evidenced by Asking Alexandria, Escape the Fate to an extent, and the aforementioned Sleeping With Sirens; Bring Me the Horizon seems to be the only one that bucked that trend. I predict Broken to continue in the direction as its predecessor when the Billboard metrics come in; it may even fall below the dreaded #200 position. Bands like this typically have an expiration date, so their options are to either change their style to keep up with the trends or keep on the same old beaten path until they fade into obscurity; with their latest outing, Mullins and co. opted for the former of the two.

Broken seems to signal a new direction for the band, sounding much closer to the likes of Red or Skillet than anything from The Hollow. Opener and lead single “The Old Me” starts off with a riff that wouldn’t feel out of place on a pre-Dark Before Dawn Breaking Benjamin album, tracks like “Watch Out”, “Over It”, and “Mark My Words” follow in the opener’s direction, and ballad “You and Me” easily feels like it could have been released on a Red album and it would’ve fit perfectly. As enjoyable as the music is, most of it feels like emulation, not innovation; to be fair, this band has never been that inventive, so that’s to be expected. Matty Mullins’ vocals are as tuneful as ever, as he channels his faith-driven passion as he did on his last solo album, Unstoppable. Screaming is scarce, only appearing in small instances throughout, such as on “Sell My Soul”. “Heavy Is the Weight” features an introspective rap verse from hip-hop artist Andy Mineo. As unexpected as this felt, it worked surprisingly well, shifting the dynamic of the record if but a tad; other recent albums like last year’s Asking Alexandria hadn’t quite hit the mark with their features. The aforementioned “You and Me” is another standout moment, detailing the struggles of letting go of a love he fought so fervently to keep together.

This album frequently resorts to the usual Christian rock cliché of “I was once lost, now I am found”, but unlike Matty’s solo work or even Unconditional, he doesn’t specifically name or reference who the “you” in the writing is. Instead, he masks his religious imagery under a veil of ambiguity, which very well could allow the message he seeks to express on Broken to be more easily digestible for a secular audience. Because of this more vague style of lyricism, it’s also in the realm of possibility that not everything on display is an outright praise of his Savior. Despite the increased ambiguity, Mullins does little to distinguish himself from the rest of the pack; he could have ghost-wrote for the last Skillet album and it would’ve probably worked as well if not better. That being said, the generic nature of Mullins’ lyrics isn’t a major flaw, as it’s tough to separate yourself artistically without also alienating the audience to whom Mullins is attempting to cater, now that the fangirl wave has waned. Not to mention, his vocal performances largely excuse the uninteresting platitudes that are present. If you’re not a fan of the typical Christian rock clichés that defined albums like Red’s Release the Panic or the latter half of Skillet’s discography, little here will strike a chord with you on a lyrical level, aside from maybe “You and Me”, at least if you’re in need of a ballad about letting go of someone you held dear.

As a full release, Broken is enjoyable, but imperfect. Those seeking a return to the style of The Hollow and Challenger will be disappointed, as Memphis May Fire run away from their previous metalcore sound. At a mere 31 minutes, this is their shortest full-length, so one thing that you will not be able to say is that it overstays its welcome; despite some weaker tracks like “Fool” or “Watch Out”, those are among the shortest outings on record. It’s arguable that this shift in direction is a way to cash in on the year’s trends; after all, This Light I Hold didn’t chart particularly well in relation to Unconditional, so it’s possible that they’re changing here to fix that. In other words, this stylistic shift could just be a calculated business move. Regardless, the writing here is executed well enough that it still feels like a fairly natural progression. Imperfect and flawed as it is, Broken is still decent as a standalone despite the relative disappointment it may generate. In the words of Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots, “don't trust a perfect person and don't trust a song that’s flawless.”



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user ratings (87)
Chart.
1.9
poor
other reviews of this album
klocu4 (2.5)
While the album can be enjoyable, it comes off as generic, uninspired and lackluster....



Comments:Add a Comment 
AgentDeathbat
November 15th 2018


9958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Figured I might as well implement some diversity in the discussion on this album. I'll never claim this is a masterpiece by any means, but this isn't really bad at all.

tyman128
November 15th 2018


1470 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I’ll be checking this out because I liked some of their old stuff, but apparently i shouldn’t expect that. Still gonna give it a shot

joshieboy
November 15th 2018


6672 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Have tried to get into this band a few times, but have been bored quickly.

AgentDeathbat
November 15th 2018


9958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

@Tyman: In a way, this feels like a whole new band. Matty's voice is as great as it ever was, but this is pretty much not a metalcore album at all. Hope you at least get some enjoyment out of it!

@Josh: It's definitely not for everyone.

joshieboy
November 15th 2018


6672 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'll check it coz of your review. Pos btw. You're a good reviewer.

AgentDeathbat
November 15th 2018


9958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

@Josh: Yo, thank you. I do still anticipate some troll negs, as it's commonplace, but any support helps!

If anything, I think you might dig "You and Me" a bit.

tyman128
November 15th 2018


1470 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

“You’re a good reviewer” [2] It’s crazy looking back at your first reviews and seeing how much you’ve progressed, almost like an entirely different writer.

Anyway, it’s kinda sad that this isn’t a metalcore album, but hey, I’m a sucker for Christians rock-esque stuff also

joshieboy
November 15th 2018


6672 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I got some ghost negs on my last review and my OCD went into overdrive ha. Last time l listened to these guys, they were full blown metalcore so this is a bit weird. Mullins has a great voice no doubt, but, still feel this is a 2.5 like the rest of their stuff.

AgentDeathbat
November 15th 2018


9958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

@tyman: Yeah, I really didn't put a ton of effort into those old reviews. Especially the two tbt's I did. Eventually, I want to re-do those albums in a more in-depth manner. At least Hate Me - Suicide Silence doesn't deserve any better than what I gave them lol.

AgentDeathbat
November 15th 2018


9958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

@joshieboy: Yeah, a 2.5 or even a 2 is fair enough. I think the 1.5's and 1's are a bit of an overreaction, but it's whatever. They did the same shit to Simulation Theory and Anthem of the Peaceful Army, albums I have at a 3 and a 2.5 respectively.

tyman128
November 15th 2018


1470 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

so, the full album hasn’t released on Apple Music yet, so i only downloaded the single to listen to on the bus to school, and it’s weird. I’m not used to the fact that aim not hearing any signs of metalcore, it’s not bad, but it’s obvious their strengths were in metalcore. I’ll be downloading this after school and delving into it definitely

AgentDeathbat
November 15th 2018


9958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

@tyman: Let me know what you think after you get to the rest.

Lucman
November 16th 2018


2722 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Yep, this record is the definition of poor form. Take a timeout lads, you're only bringing the team down.

AgentDeathbat
November 16th 2018


9958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

@Lucman: I can certainly see why one would think that. I guess I just don't

Philthereaper
November 16th 2018


4 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is probably my AOTY and Memphis May Fire's magnum opus, every song sounds different and it's such a feels fest. Holy fuck, I was not expecting it to be this good.

AgentDeathbat
November 16th 2018


9958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I don't really agree, but ok^

karpatfalvi
November 16th 2018


29 Comments


I’m not sure I want to listen it again to form an opinion... I’ve heard these chilchès so many times, I can’t really appreciate them being “well-executed”, they’re clichès after all. And this album is loaded with them, there wasn’t a moment when I caught a glimpse of originality and inspiration. Will rate later tho.

AgentDeathbat
November 16th 2018


9958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I mean yeah, the lack of originality does bring this down quite a bit, but it's ultimately saved by the sheer volume of its honesty.

Lucman
November 16th 2018


2722 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

That's a respectable rating though, Agent. Glad you don't just jump on the blind hate wagon. I gave this an honest shot but it's not for me at all.

AgentDeathbat
November 16th 2018


9958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

@Lucman: That's perfectly acceptable :-) I do have a soft spot for the style that I compared this to, so that might reflect a bias.

Are there any songs you actually ended up liking tho?



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