Artist: Maylene & The Sons of Disaster
Label: Ferret Records
Maylene & The Sons of Disaster was formed in Birmingham, AL, after front man, Dallas Taylor, left his previous metalcore band, Underoath. Maylene is a southern hardcore/rock band that blended together hardcore elements of the mid-2000s with styles of “backwoods” or Appalachian music. Since the band is based right at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains, I figured this band, being one of my favorites in High School, would be appropriate for an album review. I chose album the album “III” because it’s an album I haven’t listened a lot to.
Maylene recorded their third full-length, “III,” while remaining with Ferret Records in 2008. Although Maylene isn’t a DIY band, they’re were not, and still aren’t, recording with a multimillion dollar producer. With that said, the band may have a label backing them, but a lot of this band’s sound and idea’s are from their members. I think this still shows a sense of ”Do It Yourself,” which reflects back to Appalachian/southern values. The band continued writing their storyline that is based after Ma Barker and her sons who were outlaws in the Midwest. Although, the adventures are from the Midwest, we still hear nothing but ties to, very obvious, Appalachian ties. Taylor expresses how the story of Barker really made him think, in an interview with MTV in 2008:
“I’ve always wondered what made Hitler tick — what made him think he was doing a good deed? Serial killers too — it’s always boggled my mind, and I’ve always wanted to know why they thought what they were doing was right? I’ve read up on Ma Barker, and she basically thought her family was doing a good deed,” (MTV, 2007).
Still following the story line with Ma Barker, III begins beautifully with Waiting on My Deathbed. Cricket chirps and bugs are making noises, sounds that are all too familiar when you come from the mountains or south, especially when you’re outside writing the review and you can’t tell if you hear these noises, or if it’s just the song. The banjo then begins lightly, setting the theme for the album. Then electric guitar hits and Taylor belts out and you instantly know “Maylene is back.” It’s great beginning to the third album, as they had to live up to their previous sophomore album.
Settling Scores by Burning Bridges is the next song on the album. This feels like a follow up to their previous song on II called Darkest of Kin. It’s a hard hitting, mosh type of song, but it still has good southern rock riffs. The lyrics aren’t held back at all, as Taylor continues the story. This time it’s about revenge. He makes it clear that his character is still doing God’s deed when he says “Don’t count me out, this will not die. Heavenly Father’s wrath and Hell is in my eyes.” The bridge gives off an eerie tone that reminds me of backwoods trouble. I really enjoy this song because the guitar parts are so technical, even the guitar solo.
Just a Shock is one of my favorites on this album. It starts off with the guitar fast picking, which to me I find extremely southern/Appalachian because it seems to have some bluegrass influence to it. The lyrics don’t follow or put any depth into the story line, however the music is very moving. It’s fast paced at first, has a very southern rock vibe to it, and the bridge slows down using combinations of slow picking and delay. Personally, music like this has its grips on me.
Last Train Coming is an odd track to me because it doesn’t seem like a single, nor does it hold any significance with the album. I personally call tracks like these “filler tracks.” The only saving grace to this track is it’s twangey, southern riffs. Other than that, it didn’t do much for me.
So, Step Up (I’m on It), may have the most Appalachian influences in it. Banjo is played through the whole song, which gives that backwoods vibe. Another wonderful use of mountain influence is the use of the washboard. In several parts you can hear it in the difference. If you look up the video to this song, you’ll see that it’s basically a recreating of the movie Deliverance. The ending sings “Halleluiah, brother. Come on in,” which is another southern quality, I feel. Gives that vibe of southern hospitality. Over all, this track is wonderful, however the guitar solo during the bridge kills me. It holds no redeeming qualities and doesn’t fit the southern style they were going for at all.
Listen Close, is another one of my favorites. This song is very different than all of the songs on an album. It’s a slowed down, love song that almost sounds as if it could play on our local Star Country station. However, it’s a relief in the album because it lets your ears relax. The riffs scream southern rock, which I personally love. At the time, most people didn’t like this song, because it had those elements and they were coming from a hardcore band. To this day, this song grabs my attention. As the last song, there is one piece in this song that just doesn’t fit in. The vocal effect that Taylor uses at the end sound like he’s trying to recreate something like Bon Jovi. This bugs me because it doesn’t fit the mood/theme. However, I’ll continue to have this song on my playlist.
Up to this point in this album you really don’t hear much of the Barkers’ story. It seems like it’s only a mere influence to get things going. With that said, Old Iron Hill does give some relief for the backwoods/southern type of lyrics that had been missing. “Back to the days where we still say grace and a man’s words all he had. Way down south where they know my name, Homecoming. Headed back to the old iron hills, to the heart of Dixieland. I’ll heal my wounds back in Birmingham.” I feel like the lyricism on this song grab the attention of those who are looking for that southern mood in these songs. The way he pronounces the lyrics in this song gives off that feeling too, as he sings with the dialect of those in the mountains. This happens in this album a lot, which brings me back home (even though I am home.)
“Mama said I was a no good son. I think it’s time for me to make my mark. Headlines and police cars; a tragedy from the start.” This is the chorus during No Good Son. It’s easy to tell that this is a tack on the album that’s dedicated to the storyline. Although the riffs are pretty simple and easy going, it still gives off that southern style, while intertwining some of the Barkers’ story. However, I may call this one a filler track.
Another track that starts off heavy with the southern riffs. This track, Harvest Moon Hanging, is probably the one that talks the most about the Barkers’ adventures. It’s obvious that in the story that the character that Taylor is playing, or writing about, struggles between God and the Devil. With lyrics like “There’s a devil sitting on my shoulder. He’s speaking to me tonight,” and, “There is a struggle inside me, salvation keeps pulling me. I go back and forth and back again,” it is easy to see his character’s struggle with his religion. Two other lyrics that strike me with the story are: “The Holy ghost creeping up on me,” and “The Mississippi ain’t the river Jordan, it wont wash me clean. There is a struggle inside me, salvation keeps pulling me. I go back and forth and back again.” The reason I bring these up, is because growing up with this band I looked for the story within the music; I think this is so important with albums. Although the music, to me, in this track lacks, it plays towards the story of the album.
Oh Lonely Grave, starts off with an intro that sounds like it should be out of O’Brother Where Art Thou, the deep guitar riffs and the backup vocalist’s wonderful, southern voice pulls you deep into the song. It then goes into a very heavy southern riff with Taylor’s vocals deep in themselves. His character is ready to leave his life, or so it seems. Until he’s asking for the Lord to strike him down. “Holy Father I pray, you wrap my brothers in your warm embrace. When my time comes I won’t go quiet. Even in death, I’m in second place,” these lyrics show he’s ready, but still won’t go out without a bang.
The last track is another that is my favorite, even though it’s an instrumental. It’s titled “The End Is Here…The End Is Beautiful.” Beautiful is the word best to describe it. It gives another eerie, backwoods feeling. At the time, I’m guessing, that everyone thought Taylor’s character was dead. But, also it left the question “Is Maylene and The Sons of Disaster over?”
After going through all the songs, again and again, I would have to rate it a six out of ten. I think this album has a lot of richer southern influence than their previous album, “II,” but the ladder still remains a favorite in my heart. Sputnik music gave this album a 4.5 (superb), Jesusfreakhideout.com gave it a 4.5, and Underthegunreview.com (which had reviewed my previous band) gave it a nine out of ten. With that being said, this album seemed to have been liked by many. Back in the day, I did see various negative reviews about how it seemed like the band tried to had to be “glam rock.” I do agree, however I don’t think glam rock has ever tied in this much southern influence. As we have studied the Appalachian culture, the more I think that albums like this would be underrated because of their southern influences/ties. Just like the history of the mountain region itself, many over look it because it has such a negative reputation for being backwards, dumb, and overly religious.
All in all, this is still a record I’ll listen to while driving the back way to North Carolina, through the mountains to see my Grandmother. It almost makes me feel at home. The banjos, heavy southern riffs, tied in with screaming and the hardcore elements make me feel like I’m at home. It’s funny, most of the people that I know who really love this band are people like me, who have grown up in the mountains, or the south, and feel like it’s a band just for them because of the hardcore elements. It makes a lot of us feel like there is a place for our heavy music in the region. It brings our southern ties together with our love for hardcore/metal. I’d definitely recommend this album to anyone who loves heavier music with southern ties.