When Memphis May Fire front-man Matty Mullins said in an interview recently that Challenger their follow up to well-received last album The Hollow would be their best, heaviest album to date my expectations were instantly set pretty high. The Hollow was a turning point in MMF’s career, it was a highly enjoyable album and even though it did walk the line of genericore closely, it turned out.
Straight up Challenger to me sounds like The Hollow: Part 2 more-so than a new groundbreaking album, although it is definitely heavier in parts Challenger shares similar riffing style, vocals and drum-work to that of its predecessor, not that it’s a bad thing of course but it does bring with it some disappointing downsides that lowered my expectations.
From start to finish the songs all mesh into one. You can barely tell when one song finishes and the next one begins, all of the songs follow the same formula of screaming/singing and after about the 4th track in you can work out the formula pretty closely predicting when a breakdown is going to kick in or a singing part. Having said that I still like this album, heck I listened to it more times than you could possibly think and perhaps this is the reason why the flaws of this album became so apparent especially after repeated listens.
Lyrically this album is weaker than the World Trade Centre being downed by a few pounds of military grade thermite with topics ranging from cliché heartbreak tales and hating on shit, the songs are the lyrical equivalent of watching paint dry except you’re being shouted at. Vocally Matty Mullin’s is at the top of his game, in-fact Matty is quite possibly the only part of the band keeping it relevant and if any other vocalist were fronting MMF they wouldn’t be as liked or recognised as they currently are.
One of my favourite things about Challenger is the production. Even though this is their second album for Rise Records and usually all Rise bands have similar sounding production every single track on this album production-wise sounds fucking fantastic. The guitars sound quite punchy, the drums sound epic and the vocals sound brutal-as-fuck which is a huge testament to Cameron Mizell who has made some questionable decisions throughout his production career.
If Memphis May Fire want to succeed I think they really need to go back and re-evaluate the sound they showcased on their debut Sleepwalking. I hate to be “that guy” but Memphis May Fire sounded their best when they were writing and playing southern influenced rock n’ roll music, they have so much potential to be better than they are but without-a-doubt they’re one of the better bands Rise Records have signed in the past few years but Rise is partially to blame for the change in sound and hopefully they rectify it because even though people love the MMF sound now, people will get tired of it and start to turn.