The particular subgenre to which Memphis May Fire belong has become increasingly maligned of late, although the popularity of this particularly accessible “heavy” family has never been greater. ‘This Light I Hold’ is sadly a shining example of exactly why it is beginning to attract such criticism.
At thirteen tracks, any album holds a high probability of filler. Here, it feels as if the stronger tracks are the ones filling in the gaps. Indeed, these are limited to the opening two songs on this fourth full-length by the Dallas group. ‘Out Of It’ provides the only true hint of aggression with the key characteristic of screaming and sung vocals, while ‘Carry On’ is a lone instance of melody worthy of its lead single status.
For the remaining eleven tracks, this is a frustratingly stale, stubborn and samey effort. It is difficult to pick any particular low points, although the needless guest spot by Jacoby Shaddix on the spineless title track is a contender. While ‘That’s Just Life’’s barely overdriven chords at first seem a welcome diversion, but frankly, it’s another poorly crafted song.
Matty Mullins’ scream has always had a certain discernibility to it, but the lyrics here are as well left unheard – “I want it. I got it. It’s like I just can’t get enough.’ (see ‘Wanting More’). A further unnecessary guest contribution, by Larry Soliman on ‘Not Over Yet’, feels like a hollow attempt to deflect attention from the uninspiring music.
This is not a record that is going to derail Memphis May Fire. The new songs will sit comfortably alongside ‘The Sinner’ and ‘No Ordinary Love’ in festival sets. But while their peers continue to produce increasingly ambitious and refined work, MMF are at risk of being left behind on this evidence.
The closing ‘Live It Well’’s desperate contemplation of "will they remember me for something more than just the words I sing?” contains an irony almost too obvious to point out.
‘This Light I Hold’ by Memphis May Fire is released on October 28th on Rise Records.
Words by Peter Stewart (@AtavanHalen_)