Memphis May Fire might be one of the most underrated bands in the hardcore scene. But thanks to a few game-changing strategic moves, you might be hearing a lot more of them in 2011. The Texas-based band recently signed with Rise Records in January and is anticipating their second studio album, The Hollow, to drop on April 26. On March 22, they released their first full song from the album, entitled “The Sinner.” Call me crazy, but after one listen, it’s easy to see they’ve found – or rather, caught onto – the recipe for success.
The Hollows is expected to be heavier and darker than any of the band’s previous releases, and judging from “The Sinner,” it won’t disappoint. The song opens with the hissing of static before launching immediately into screams that I nearly mistook as Mike Hranica’s. Saying that the track could almost fit right in with The Devil Wears Prada’s Zombie EP is both a huge compliment and a slight annoyance. But more on that later. The newly introduced high screams, layered behind the now-perfectly polished lows, clearly establish the band’s sound within the first minute of the song.
Matty Mullin’s clean vocals are utilized well in “The Sinner,” although not nearly as much as in previous releases, making brief appearances in bridges and the song‘s powerful chorus. He’s always managed to sing somewhere in that happy medium: not quite whiny but high enough for a little “wow” factor. The composition is good, with just the right amount of high and low points, alternating heavy and soft. “The Sinner” comes to an end with gruff vocals, repeating the chorus: “Keep it close, keep it close / Keep my head above water / I need to hear your voice / I can’t do this on my own.”
But is anyone else getting the feeling that they’ve heard this before? The guitar riffs, the breakdowns, the chimes, the vocals – and who can forget that trendy delayed guitar whir/drop effect — they all sound eerily familiar. And eerily addicting.
Memphis May Fire started off on their self-titled EP as a hardcore band with a southern rock edge. Even Sleepwalking had the same refreshing twang to it, slipped cleverly between inspired vocals and raw, frenzied screams.
I’m kind of disappointed to see them get sucked into the stereotypical sound now being associated with most of the bands signed to Rise Records. I’ve been trying to turn a blind eye to similarities between Asking Alexandria, A Bullet For Pretty Boy and (dare I say it) The Devil Wears Prada. But lately, the likeness is staring me right in the face, daring me to criticize the epic, apocalyptic sound that everyone knows and loves.
Guess it’s time to acknowledge the elephant in the room.
Judging from “The Sinner,” The Hollow has all of the momentum to be a hit for Memphis May Fire. In all probability, hardcore fans will eat it up, and I’ll probably be one of them. So maybe I’m a hypocrite, but Rise Records is onto something. The real question is, how long will it be until people start to get tired of it? And can anyone set themselves apart from the pack with something entirely new before the genre implodes? You be the judge.