Throughout their career, Memphis May Fire have well and truly settled themselves into the Warped Tour metalcore scene. In terms of both fanbase and sound, the band have become comfortable, and their sixth full-length effort, Broken, does little to change this. Fans will be happy to hear that all the cookie-cutter metalcore tropes expected of the band are here. Although now with an added mainstream flare one would expect from a band like Papa Roach.
Memphis May Fire were never exactly groundbreaking and on their latest studio offering they sound more dated and tired than ever. It’s as if they have taken their old chugging style of bog-standard contemporary metalcore and given it a clean wipe. The result is a sound devoid of any crunch that may have been present before.the bands slight new direction seems more like an attempt to water-down their sound, as opposed to showing any kind of artistic growth. The result is mismatch of ideas that manages to sound as mature and as it is juvenile.
From the opening track and lead single 'The Old Me', it becomes clear what the rest of the album will sound like. The song features a catchy riff with a squeaky-clean production job and front man Matty Mullins’ non-distinct vocals venture between mid-range singing and harsh screams. There are a few exceptions to this formula in the track list. 'Heavy is the Weight', a song that sounds like Linkin Park at their worst, shows the band stretching out into more electronic territory, while 'You and Me' also meets the criteria for the album's resident ballad. Beyond these two tracks, Memphis May Fire tread the same safe ground they have many times before.
A selling point of Broken and Memphis May Fire as a whole is Mullins’ lyrical venture, which deals with issues such as isolation, self-doubt and mental health. While the album does address these topics, they’re done in such a by-the-numbers manner that they feel almost disingenuous. In his defence, it must become difficult when writing about the same concepts for the sixth time.
On Broken, Memphis May Fire seem to dig themselves further into the safe mid-tier rut they’ve dug out for themselves over the last decade. If you’re already a fan of Memphis May Fire, Broken will keep you happy enough but it’s hard to see anyone else enjoying this. Especially in a year where metalcore is thriving, with the likes of Vein and Architects breaking new ground within the genre. Broken is a safe, radio-friendly and largely inoffensive album from a band that seems as scared to impress as they are to disappoint.