Sons of the South
Posted October 29, 2008
Maylene & the Sons of Disaster is a hard name to forget. They were formed in 2004 by Dallas Taylor of Underoath fame. Dallas says that Maylene is derived from the tale of Ma Barker, one of the last organized crime bosses of the 20th century. Both their band name and lyrics reflect that story.
Southern born and bred, Maylene's debut album offers up a unique blend of southern rock and metal that will appeal to fans of either genre. The album was released in 2005, when I was in Jr. High. A friend in high school let me borrow the CD to listen to, because at the time I didn't know very much about hard music and was interested in hearing some. My first impression was "Wow, this is the heaviest thing I've ever heard!" but the southern grooves appealed to me and kept me from dismissing it as just another crazy metal album.
Maylene offers longer instrumental break then most metal/screamo bands and is laden with memorable hooks and melodies that other metal bands usually neglect to add. So it's probably less inclined to give you a headache if you're new to the hard music scene and if you're already a die hard head banger you're going to have a hard time resisting playing air drums and air guitar, especially if you listen to this CD while driving.
The sheer brutality of the lyrics might cause some CCM fans to cringe at first, but there is an underlying Christian message beneath the dark exterior.
In the first track, "Caution: Dangerous Curves Ahead" Dallas screams
"Heretics claiming the Savior as their own
I have the book and it's warned me of you".
If you play guitar one of your favorite songs will be track two, "The Road Home to Panther Creek". Complete with a southern blues injected guitar solo, this is one of the best songs on the album. It's also has some of the most overtly Christian lyrics. At the end of the song come the lines,
"Turn or burn not the most peaceful thing, but truth is out of my hands
Love is never easy
Not to attractive for the weak".
The third track "Bang! The Witch is Dead" starts with another bluesy guitar riff and proceeds into a chorus of bone crushing ferocity. The drumming is not even close to being as complex as in most metal bands, but it's solid simplicity greatly adds to the southern roots sound of the band.
"Tough as John Jacobs" is probably the most laid back song of the album, combining grungy southern style singing with screaming that makes this song another stand out. It's chorus makes you want to sing along. And the addition of a cowbell and guitar solo are a nice touches.
Even into track five Maylene's debut it just keeps on getting better. "Gusty Like the Wind" invites you in with a quick pounding drum fill and evolves into one of the heaviest songs on the album, waking you back up after "Tough as John Jacobs" comparative softness.
The lyrics are honest and heartfelt, they speak of a struggle with depression.
Between it's infectious chorus and pounding double bass this song is unforgettable and you may find yourself rewinding it for a second listen once it's ended.
The sixth track is titled "A Mind of Grimes" and it continues the momentum build up by "Gusty Like the Wind" with some more incredible guitar work. While it's not typical super technical metal guitar work, it's much more musical then someone who just taps out minor scales as fast as humanly possible.
"Lady At The Gate" is another solid track. Maylene has a knack for making every song sound different and similar at the same time. As a result it's almost irresistible to listen to the entire album after hearing only one song.
Around the time "Never Stop Haunting" comes around you begin to wonder if it's possible for Maylene to come up with a mediocre song. While "Never Stop Haunting" may not be the best song in the record, it doesn't stop short of being a great song.
The closing song, "Hell on the Rise" does not contain lyrics for the faint of heart. While it's not gory it certainly is dark. Musically it matches the lyrics, but it still makes for a good end to the record.
Overall I don't think there is much Maylene could have done to improve this album, it's already so good. They could try to work God into more of their lyrics, but at the same time the level they're at is good. Any more preachy and it might turn off some non Christian fans who may have otherwise been influenced in a good way by it.
I've thought long and hard about what to rate it and in the end I've decided that I have to give it five stars. This is truly southern metal at it's best.
I'd recommend this album for fans of He is Legend, Underoath, Disciple, War of Ages, Haste the Day and The Showdown.
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