When a band has mastered their craft like Memphis May Fire, it’s no surprise when they continue to release solid records. On their sixth studio album, Broken, the band will once again meet their fans’ expectations with the same high-quality production and songwriting they’ve come to expect. As a result of their encouraging music, positive message, and move towards mainstream success, MMF has cultivated a loyal fan base over the years and, on Broken, continue to cater to their audience.
As a well-rounded fan favorite, the Dallas natives began their career in the thick of the metalcore genre and have since evolved into a more mainstream rock sound – a natural evolution for a band of their style and skill. Similar to previous albums, Broken takes the listener on an introspective journey through pain and perseverance as frontman and co-songwriter Matty Mullins explores the ups and downs of life experience.
The overarching storyline of the record walks a tightrope between accepting where you are in life and wanting to be better. However, while the lyricism has certainly taken steps in the right direction since MMF’s last release, there are still gaps in the story that would likely connect Mullins with his audience in a more potent way. The album is genuine, no doubt, but, lyrically, it rarely digs deeper than the surface. “The Old Me” and “Live Another Day” bookend the record as anthems, a call and response to depression, anxiety, self-harm, and isolation; the tracks in between follow Mullins through the pressure points of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Not uncommon territory for Mullins who has long been an advocate of mental health and embracing a spiritual center.
Lifelong fans would trade the predictable form and perfect production for moments of unfiltered risk.
Also similar to previous records, Broken showcases the band’s musicianship. On top of Mullins’ solid vocal performance, guitarist Kellen McGregor riffs seamlessly through their anthemic tracks. But, just like Mullins’ merch-ready lyrics, they leave more of their talent on the table, begging the boundaries to be pushed even more. Likewise, bassist Cory Elder and drummer Jake Garland drive the rhythm section with grace and stamina in songs like “Watch Out” and “Fool.” It’s the same notable reservation: These undeniably talented musicians seem to be holding back the power and flair they’re capable of – the boldness and originality evident in past MMF records. Lifelong fans would trade the predictable form and perfect production for moments of unfiltered risk. The most standout song on the album is “Sell My Soul” with its slow, laborious groove and subtle blues influence. The track manages to build to a crescendo in a non-traditional way; from the first beat, this song moves your head, closes your eyes, and generates interest in a unique way.
While a solid record like Broken illustrates the technical skill and professional songwriting that Memphis May Fire is known for, it’s also an unfortunate reminder that the band that wrote integral albums like The Hollow and Challenger is capable of much more. Their aggressive energy has been channeled into a new, evolving sound, and, having such a strong history with metalcore fans, MMF has rightfully earned a place at the top of the charts. Their message is a beacon of light in a world of hopelessness, and their music certainly reflects that – it would just be a better album if they dug a little deeper.