Courtesy: Rise Records
Early last year, Memphis May Fire released its fourth full-length album Unconditional in stores and online. The album was received to critical acclaim, debuting in the #4 slot on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart and selling more than 27,000 copies in its first week in stores. Now, a little more than a year after its release, the band has teamed with its label, Rise Records, to re-issue the album in a new Deluxe edition. Unconditional Deluxe Edition features two new songs and a pair of acoustic takes of songs included in Unconditional’s original release and its new re-issue. The acoustic renditions of ‘Beneath The Skin’ and ‘Need To Be’ close out Unconditional’s re-issue and are just two of the highlights of this record. Both renditions give the original songs from which they stemmed their own new identities yet lose none of the depth and power exhibited in the originals. ‘My Generation,’ which is one of the newly introduced songs on this record. While it may have the same name as The Who’s timeless composition, it is anything but that song. In other words it isn’t a cover. It is its own song completely separate from that work yet still boasts its own powerful musical and lyrical content. Regardless of whether fans go for the acoustic renditions of ‘Beneath The Skin’ and ‘Need To Be,’ the newly introduced anthem ‘My Generation’ or the album’s other newly introduced song ‘Stay The Course’ every one of Memphis May Fire’s fans will agree that the addition of all four songs makes Unconditional’s new re-issue one of this year’s best new re-issues.
Memphis May Fire’s newly re-issued 2014 album Unconditional is one of the best of this year’s crop of re-issues. Long-time fans of the veteran Dallas, Texas-based metalcore band will agree with this sentiment after hearing the four new additions to the album. One of those additions, an acoustic re-working of ‘Beneath The Skin,’ anchors the album’s bonus tracks. It can be argued that the song’s acoustic take gives the song a whole new identity as the heaviness of the original take is not there. That identity has been established as Kellen McGregor and Anthony Sepe have traded in the heavy, crunching sound that served as the basis in the original song for a much more emotional sound that is made even deeper and moving thanks to front man Matty Mullins’ equally toned-down vocal delivery as he sings, “She dreams of a day when she won’t have to cry herself to sleep/Staring at the scars on her wrists/She knows this is not who she wants to be/Another night all alone with her thoughts/Dwelling on the questions that race through her head/Scared to sleep/Scared to wake up and face the day/When she can’t forget the things that they said.” Whereas the heavier sound of the song’s original take gives it a feeling that exudes great tension and anger on the part of the song’s subject, this new acoustic take paints the picture of the young lady as a figure feeling so much sadness and pain. That is especially the case in the verse noted here. The gentility and fragility in Mullins’ delivery set against the equally reserved sound exhibited by his band mates makes it especially worth the listen by any young person, male or female. In being that much more worth the listen, it will hae a greater chance of relating to so many more young listeners and potentially helping make a positive in said individuals’ lives. That increased ability to reach and relate to a wider audience makes the acoustic take of ‘Beneath The Skin’ a clearly positive addition to Unconditional’s re-issue. That is not to say that the original, heavier take is any less significant in the bigger picture of the album. It just means to say that the new acoustic take presented here is just as powerful as the full-on, original take.
The newly introduced acoustic take of ‘Beneath The Skin’ is a clear example of what makes Unconditional’s new re-issue an album that every Memphis May Fire fan will appreciate. While it may be an acoustic take of a much heavier song, that does not make the song any less heavy. As a matter of fact, the emotion and depth exuded by the much softer re-working of the song makes it just as heavy and in turn impacting. It is just one of the additions made to the album’s re-issue that makes it worth the listen. The acoustic re-working of ‘Need To Be’ adds even more reason for the band’s fans to check out the album’s Deluxe Edition. Just as with the acoustic take of ‘Beneath The Skin,’ the acoustic re-working of this song gives it just as much depth. The song’s original take is by no means heavy. Obviously neither is this take. But it still offers its own depth. The difference between the tracks is that this song maintains a certain reserved nature where the original adds a certain amount of punch as it proceeds. That control exhibited throughout the song in comparison to its original take makes the song’s lyrical content much more personal as Mullins sings, “My heart is heavy and torn/Weighed down by all my mistakes and the chains I’ve worn/A constant struggle with fear/Unsure if I was enough from the day I was born/But you see the beauty in my flaws/You pick me up when I fall/Show me the way when I am lost/In the eye of the storm/You show me I’m not alone/And give me strength to carry on.” The electronics removed from the song at this moment and replaced with the gentle tones of a piano, shaker, and drum set gives it a completely different feel that is still positive in its own right. It is just one change made in this song that makes it just as deep and powerful as the song’s original take and in turn yet another reason that Memphis May Fire’s fans will appreciate the new Deluxe edition of Unconditional.
Both of the acoustic re-workings presented in Unconditional’s new Deluxe Edition show in their own way why the band’s fans will appreciate this new re-issue. Of course for all of the value that they add to the record, they are not the only reasons that the band’s fans will appreciate this record. There are also two previously unreleased tracks included as part of the Deluxe Edition’s body–‘My Generation’ and ‘Stay The Course.’ Both songs are equally hard-hitting and memorable in their own right. The prior of the pair especially stands out. That is thanks in large part to its pounding musical content, driven by Jake Garland’s solid time keeping and the dual attack of McGregor and Sepe. The infectious, fist-pumping chant of “We are the youth/We are the future” in the song’s chorus makes the song even harder-hitting. One can easily imagine the band’s fans chanting these lines defiantly and in unison at its live shows. It’s just one aspect of the song’s lyrical content that makes the song such an important addition to the album’s re-issue. Mullens and company go on to sing in the song’s chorus, “Fight, fight, fight for the ones without a voice/Fight, fight, fight until they pay attention/Fight, fight, fight for the ones without a voice/Fight, fight, fight we’re gonna make ’em listen/Fight, fight, fight, we’re gonna fight ’till they hear us.” The defiance is clear and will definitely energize the band’s fans. The addition of the heavy, pummeling guitars and drums alongside Mullens’ delivery style adds even more power to the song. Whether for its pummeling musical content or for its defiant lyrical content, it can be said that the combination of both elements together presented here makes ‘My Generation’ one of Memphis May Fire’s best songs yet and even more proof of why Unconditional’s new Deluxe Edition is a record that any of the band’s fans will appreciate. That is not to discount the also newly added song ‘Stay The Course. That song will impress the band’s fans just as much with its message of perseverance. Both songs coupled with both of the acoustic pieces added to the album here make the album in whole a welcome addition to the library of any of the band’s fans and an album that proves itself to be one of the best of this year’s crop of re-issues.
Memphis May Fire released last year what has since proven to be one of its most successful albums to date if not its single-most successful album when it released Unconditional. Now with its new Deluxe Edition re-issue, which boasts two new tracks and two acoustic re-workings of songs featured in the album’s original release, Unconditional may very well surpass the mark set by the album in its original take. That is thanks in large part to the noted new additions included here. All four songs together will impress by the band’s long-time fans just as much as those that are less familiar with the band’s body of work. Each listener will agree in hearing those new additions alongside the original album’s songs, that Unconditional is, again, a welcome addition to the library of any of the band’s fans and a work that is one of the best of this year’s crop of re-issues. It is available now in stores and online. The band is currently touring in support of Unconditional. It will be live in Auburn Hills, Michigan tonight and Chicago, Illinois tomorrow. Fans can get the band’s full list of tour dates online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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