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Album Review: Memphis May Fire – Unconditional

2 min read

Memphis May Fire have been establishing themselves as one of the biggest names in Metalcore over the past few years and continue their charge with their newest album Unconditional. The Texan-bred quintet has produced a refined, tight collection in their fourth release which follows 2012’s acclaimed Challenger.

MemphisMayFire-UnconditionalUnconditional is a mature release from the boys, demonstrating a natural progression as they hone and develop their sound into a consistent brand of aggressive, melodic metalcore which sets them apart from others in the genre.

Front-man Matty Mullins’ vocals are as controlled and on point as ever in the 11-track collection as he swerves between aggressive growls and smooth cleans. Mullins is backed up by the rest of the band who make a point of keeping the sound aggressive and tight, striking each note with enviable accuracy.

The album begins strongly with the first single, No Ordinary Love, which could be one of the best songs on Unconditional. The aggressive opener is punctuated by bouts of emotion-filled clean vocals which, accompanied by the instrumental consistency, helps to maintain an equilibrium of sound.

The assault continues with Beneath the Skin, a moving tale of a girl’s battle with self-harm and depression featuring a killer guitar riff and emotionally charged chorus. The heavy, melodic tune is strengthened by the thoughtful and comforting lyrics (“Is our generation too blind to see true beauty lies beneath the skin?”).

Unconditional continues its barrage of aggressive tracks until the midway point which is marked by the album’s clean love ballad Speechless.  “I’ve tasted true love and I believe/For a moment I’m a poet without words/I’m speechless because you love me at my worst” Mullins sings in the sweet track which shows off his impressive vocals as he is backed subtly by the rest of the group.

The slow pace doesn’t stick around for long, with the following track The Rose making up for the previous 3 minutes of peace with its intense sense of urgency and venomous breakdowns. The heaviness of The Rose gives way for a more melodic focus on Not Enough but returns for the final breakdown.

Following another clean track in Need to Be and another brutal melodic tune in Pharisees, Unconditional ends on a high note with the energetic Divinity. The final track closes the album well as it keeps the listener feeling satisfied yet wanting more from the entertaining group.

Overall, Unconditional shows a promising maturation for Memphis May Fire in their polished aggression and clean tracks. It is a solid collection of tracks which are refined, well produced and complement each other nicely. Old and new fans should be pleased with the band’s latest effort though it would be nice to see them take more risks, such as finding a way to re-implement the old, unique Southern style which was dominant on their debut album Sleepwalking.