Let's face it, from a creative standpoint, metalcore is all but dead. While pioneering bands like Killswitch Engage and Cave In expertly merged the melodic with the heavy into coherent and catchy songs, a glut of recent groups have apparently begun to think of music as little more than breakdowns stitched together by whiny vocal musings and disjointed electronic samples.
On their second full-length, Memphis May Fire initially seem poised to fall into this same deep, dark pit. Every modern metalcore trademark is here, from the clean vocal choruses to the heavy use of synths and effects. And yet, against all odds, The Hollow sounds interesting, fresh, and truly great.
It starts with the riffs. Instead of relying on simple chugging repetition like many of its peers, this Texan quintet weaves a variety of speedy, intricate, and catchy guitar patterns throughout its sound, lending it an almost progressive quality. The number of solid riffs here is remarkable, and these alone would be enough to garner a recommendation.
But even more importantly, these 10 tracks are each strong, coherent, and memorable. The infectious choruses integrate superbly with the complex riffing around them, and each song has its own identity, pacing, and feel.
Bolstered further by very solid production, clever use of effects, and strong clean vocals, The Hollow is quite simply one of the best metalcore albums in a long time. Whether you believe the subgenre died a long time ago or you have All That Remains tattooed on your forehead, this record deserves your attention. CLARKE READ