It speaks volumes as loud as the Krakatoa eruption that Memphis May Fire are pretty much done on any grander scale in metalcore. Even when their wave was cresting, they weren’t that good to begin with—they’ve always been emblematic of the derivative nadir the genre hit in the early 2010s in terms of sound, production and writing—but to see them scramble through at least two album cycles now without so much as a pricked-up ear their way is a pretty convincing death knell. Tenacity will only make up so much for a lack of drive to evolve or innovate, a static state that’s become the approach du jour for this band, as they continue to recycle their own narrow oeuvre to a point of borderline nothingness. It’d be pitiable if they didn’t bring it upon themselves, where they ditched a promising southern hardcore sound early on to cling to the trend, and proceed to dig in their heels despite being left behind at least half a decade ago.
And on that note, here’s Remade In Misery, more gristle from the meat grinder that churns out the nothingburgers that Memphis May Fire call their albums. It’s more or less exactly the same as what they’ve been producing for a decade now, right down to the tiresome feeling it emits of a band who ran out of ideas long ago. It offers a glimmer of hope right at the start on Blood & Water, where Matty Mullins sings from the perspective of someone abused by a family member in what’s a reasonably detailled concept that fits in Memphis May Fire’s wheelhouse. Unfortunately, said wheelhouse isn’t deep enough to house much else like it, and the rest of the album ends up as a collection of metalcore stereotypes that frequently circle back to Mullins’ stock persona of succumbing to his own demons and mental torture in expectedly unspecific ways. It’s about as engaging to trawl through the umpteenth iteration of nonspecific anguish as it is fun to actually experience it; this deep in, Memphis May Fire could afford to take a risk or present themselves as more convincingly visceral, but they just don’t. To call it ‘conservative’ might be a bit on-the-nose given where a track like The American Dream falls, but ‘boring’ and ‘played-out’ are just as sufficient, given that Memphis May Fire are yet to evolve or deepen their content after numerous albums in this exact lane.
The same is true of the sound, but that goes without saying. The kindest note that can be offered is that it isn’t totally intolerable—The American Dream actually has some solid punk-ish bounce, in fact—but this sort of by-numbers metalcore from Memphis May Fire has never impressed and it certainly isn’t now. Once again, the production remains monochromatic and the instrumentation lacks flair to follow suit; it’s free of the overzealous breakdowns that would really date it, but the fact that this is a metalcore album with deep roots in the early- and mid-2010s isn’t kept a secret. If anything, it’s played up on the lumbering Somebody or the locked-in programming that opens Make Believe, both of which sound the complete opposite of fresh or cutting-edge as was probably the intention. Let’s not forget that this is a band whose needle has barely budged since around 2012, to where the entirety of Remade In Misery might as well comprise of exasperated sighs at this sound still being wrung out this far past its use-by date. The guitars have little texture or tone; the bass is practically inaudible as ever; and Mullins, while not being an awful singer technically, still can’t escape the whiny upper register that has basically no stock nowadays. ‘Product of its time’ is tattooed across this album’s face, not even affixed with an impenetrable nostalgia shield that would make its clear deficiencies for a metal album in 2022 capable of being overlooked.
But then, where’s the surprise in any of that? It’s not like Memphis May Fire have done anything worth investing in lately, and Remade In Misery only continues that trend with depressing accuracy. At least they’re ignorable now; they were never on the cusp of huge things to begin with, but the fact they’re truly down in the weeds now means that the attempts to crowbar a justification of how this is somehow good can be thankfully avoided. But when that’s the case, one would presume a band in Memphis May Fire’s position would want to do more and attempt to rise back up again, rather than just resign themselves to knowing that a predetermined downswing is all that they’re good for anymore. It is, mind, and Remade In Misery is proof of that, but it’s not even like that’s new, and the new question becomes, how have they managed to hold fast for this long with ideas as ill-prepared for a changing climate as this? Either they’ve picked up more inertia than has ever been scientifically observed in history, or they’re trying desperately with the might of God to hold back that imminent fifteenth minute from ticking over. Let’s be honest—it’s most likely the latter.
For fans of: The Word Alive, blessthefall, We Came As Romans
‘Remade In Misery’ by Memphis May Fire is released on 3rd June on Rise Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall