Review: This Light I Hold, Memphis May Fire

Hailing from Dallas, Texas, metalcore quintet, Memphis May Fire (MMF), has released their fifth LP, This Light I Hold, via Rise Records. Since their conception in 2007, Memphis May Fire has been known as controversial. In 2007, MMF released a self-titled EP that got immediate attention and they were signed to a record label called TrustKill (Bullet Tooth Records). MMF let go of their vocalist in 2008 and brought on Matty Mullins shortly after. In 2009, MMF released Sleepwalking, their first LP, and gained a huge audience. With fans wanting more of these southern rockers, Memphis May Fire went back in the studio months later and released another EP, Between the Lines, in 2010. However, even though MMF was garnering a large audience and selling a few thousands records–they even had a featured song on the Saw IV soundtrack–the quintet received absolutely no royalties. So, they signed to Rise Records, a record giant in the alternative music scene, and released their second LP The Hollow in 2011, selling 17,000 records– the biggest release for Rise Records. MMF again went inside the studio to record their third LP, Challenger, released in 2012 and sold 24,000 records. MMF played Warped Tour, and gained such a large audience that they had to go back to the studio once more to satisfy the large number of fans. In 2014, they released their fourth LP, Unconditional, and sold 35,000 records in the first week and 500,000 overall. During this time of rising popularity, Matty Mullins became a figurehead of targeted controversy, with many people criticizing his Christian views in many of the band’s lyrics, and was accused of calling girls “sluts” during live shows. Even after tremendous fallout, MMF brings us This Light I Hold, a commentary of how they are too strong to change their views and have rumours bring them down.
As Memphis May Fire grew faster than expected, they were rushed to the studio multiple times, and due to constant touring, Matty’s voice had seemed to be wearing down more and more, and the mix of the recent albums have been sub par, giving a less enjoyable experience. However, This Light I Hold finally has MMF at their best sound to date. Throughout the album, the mixing of the guitars is as solid as steel and the vocals cleanly pierce through the instruments. Furthermore, Matty Mullins’s vocals are so impressive. His clean vocals (normal singing) are pristine and polished, he even shows great versatility and experiments with different techniques; with that being said, Matty’s screams are deeper, grittier, and lower than he has ever done before. Many thought Mullins was past his prime, but he is showing his listeners he has not only improved, but his best has yet to be heard, making him one of the best frontmen in the genre.
Memphis May Fire has never been known for their instruments, but for their great live performances. This Light I Hold changes that perception. Kevin McGregor, the lead guitarist and songwriter, solos fantastically and Jake Garland, the drummer, beats the drums and uses his double bass pedal with such power that the drums sound boldly crisp.
Unfortunately, with the increased excellence in musical performance, Memphis May Fire has to sacrifice heaviness, which will disappoint some fans.
As previously mentioned, Matty Mullins incorporates his Christian views into his lyrics, and this album is no exception. While Unconditional is more directly related to God and the biblical scripture, This Light I Hold has Matty telling everyone who opposes his faith-filled lyrics that he is not going to change who he is, or what he believes in. He is actually going to put more of his faith into his songs.
This Light I Hold may cause Memphis May Fire to lose fans as it is a critical point in these songs against some listeners, but, those who are loyal to the fanbase, will see past the criticism and enjoy this major release. It is a wonder though, as the majority of Memphis May Fire’s audience is not Christian, if fans of this band listen because of the music and ignore the message, or allow Matty to sway them? Regardless, Memphis May Fire’s latest release shows the Texas group’s maturity that they have

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