Review : Maylene and the Sons of Disaster - IV
PopmattersThe crunch and grime of Southern metal is attempted by many and mastered by few. The few that have made it their constant trade, like Clutch, Melvins, and Black Label Society, are responsible for inspiring a generation of new artists that have begun to make Southern metal a more popular genre again. Of greater interest, though, are the groups that have taken Southern metal and fused it with other styles to generate wholly new subgenres in the past decade. Groups such as Every Time I Die, He is Legend and the Showdown have dared to tread where few others would even imagine possible, and they’ve done so with great success. Another group deserving of praise in this category is Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, whose fusion of metalcore and Southern metal was considered innovative and unique on their very first album. Now on their fourth full-length, the Georgia-based group has cemented that reputation, and is now focused on expanding their horizons via some intriguing experimentation.
The first few chords of opening track “In Dead We Dream” immediately confirm that the Southern metal heart of the band is still intact, and any lingering doubts are erased by the first raspy screams of vocalist Dallas Taylor. IV doesn’t have quite the same thickly layered sound as its predecessor, III, but that can easily be attributed to the group cutting down from three guitarists to two last year. And despite the loss of a guitarist, most of this album is still crushingly heavy, with ripping guitar solos marking intense breakdowns, while meaty Southern metal riffs flow together to weave a complicated audio tapestry. Most songs on this album will have longtime fans of the band feeling very excited for the continuation of the style that helped make Maylene and the Songs of Disaster known to the public.
That being said, IV is not without its attempts at progression, some of which may not be well-received by fans. This album features a lot of melodic clean vocals from Taylor, which is not new for the band. However, the clean vocals have never been featured in such abundance before, dominating the vast majority of the album. On some songs, it works very well, such as the soft-sung ballad “Taking on Water” or the atmospheric acoustic track “Drought of ‘85”. On others, though, the clean singing misses the mark because it doesn’t mesh well with the thick guitar riffs and driving bass. Lead single “Open Your Eyes” is a perfect example, with a chorus that would fit better on a Skillet song forced into a downtuned lead riff that begs for a passionate screaming chorus. It’s not an awful mismatch, and it does its job of keeping the song together, but it’s not as energetic as many would want to hear....full text
JesusfreakhideoutWhen it comes to southern metal, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster have been one of the more revered names to come along in past decade. From their self-titled album to their two follow ups (titled II and III), Maylene spent their time finding new takes on the southern metal sound, and they've grown and matured as each new album released. 2009's III was released to mixed reviews, but it seemed to be their strongest album to date. Two years later, the anthology continues with IV, but does it continue their usual pattern of growth?
IV opens up with "In Dead We Dream," which gives us a taste of that Maylene sound we've come to love. It seems to lack something, but you have to keep in mind that they've gone from having six guys playing on stage to being a fourpiece (which removes two guitars from the mix, though they have layered guitars where needed here). This may also be the explanation for the sound change during the rest of the album, which isn't anything like typical Maylene. "In Dead We Dream" is the only song that can really be considered any type of metal. The rest of IV is like a southern rock album, but with traces of influence from bands like Shinedown and Theory of a Deadman. One of the singles they've released before the album's release is one called "Open Your Eyes," which is a perfect example of this sound change. It's pretty generic rock, with some heavy riffs, but a severe lack of creativity or that Maylene charm that fans expect from the band. Then there are songs like "Taking On Water," which sounds like a modern and moderately-heavier Lynyrd Skynyrd song. Two songs later is "Come For You," which unfortunately brings to mind the band Hinder. I do like the hook a little, but I feel like I enjoy the catchiness of it rather than calling it well-written.
So far, I've given the impression that Maylene's new direction in sound isn't a good change. While there are some tracks that really left me disappointed, IV also has some shining moments as well. Even though some of the tracks are really reminiscent of some of the current worst rock bands, I do like the touch Maylene gave them. Whether it's the abrasive lyrics from Dallas Taylor, or the hard-driving guitars that are prevalent throughout the heavier tracks, they do give the songs a little bit of a Maylene twist. The song "Drought of '85" is really slow and down to earth, with a heavy Pink Floyd influence; it's odd, but I like it. However, the top tracks are closer to the beginning of the album. The classic-Maylene-style song "In Dead We Dream" gets things off to a great start (even if it is a little misrepresentative of the rest of IV), and I enjoyed "Faith Healer (Bring Me Down)." It's a mid-tempo rock song, with almost a (dare I say it?) pop rock vibe in the verses. It may be the most uncharacteristic Maylene song of all of IV, reminding me somewhat of bands like Blue October and Finger Eleven....full text
DecoymusicProgressing as a band is risky. You have to make sure you are appealing to a new audience while still maintaining the fan base you’ve worked hard to gather over the years. Most bands fail… but some succeed. There will always be a critic ready to pick apart a band trying out a new sound. There will also always be loyal devotees to the band. Maylene and the Sons of Disaster have built one of the strongest fan bases in the time since their first full length was released in 2005, and they are a perfect example of a band that has been slowly progressing from a southern metalcore band to a southern hard rock band. The proof in that lies within the core of their third release appropriately titled III. You saw an evolution slowly taking place. They were losing members and you could see that the band was slowly dipping their toes in the water of hard rock. Well, my friends and foes, like it or not, Maylene are no longer dipping their toes--they’re bathing in the water, doing cannonballs into it, having belly-flop competitions… I think you get the point. Maylene are about to unleash the darkest, most mature and unadulterated album they have yet to release, suitably christened IV.
Picking up right where III left off, “In Dead We Dream” throws the pedal to the floor, punches the clutch, and whips the album into gear ever so properly. It sounds like it could be a B-side to III, partially from Dallas’ semi-scream and parially from the heavy orientation of the song. Yet the track has tons of melody to it and is well constructed, unlike most of the fan-loved tracks from their first and second releases. The following track, “Save Me,” starts to give you a taste of what’s in store for you within the next thirty-even minutes or so. It’s a darker, less heavy and more melodic side of Maylene. This particular track doesn’t offer much other than a setup for the sounds to come. It’s the third song, however, that’s really going to get the longtime Maylene fan tilting their head in confusion. It’s a modern day Lynyrd Skynyrd song full of harmony and feel-good vibes. Basic and structured chord progression is a vital key in its composition, and it is definitely one of Maylene’s most mature tracks to date, making it one of the strongest songs on this album. “Open Your Eyes” was the first single released off of this album, getting the internet buzzing with a strong distaste for the new Maylene sound. Nevertheless, it is still a solid track with a heavy groove embedded in yet another dark shadow of III. It’s got riffs, it’s got shredding and most importantly it’s got that head-nodding to make ya break ya neck…WOOHAH!
“Killing Me Slow” towers over its track-listed siblings. The opening guitar is gritty and nasty leading into Dallas’ innate ability to transcend over any instrumental backing. “Killing Me Slow” is the definition of the sound that Maylene has been striving for since their release of III. Skipping ahead two tracks to “Fate Games” the music pretty much follows in the footsteps of “Killing Me Slow.” It’s fast paced yet holds a level of melody that really helps you find the perfect notch to groove in. The same goes for “Never Enough” and “Cat’s Walk.” They’re both full of finger-pickin’ good guitar work that showcases some rifftastic growth in Maylene’s ability to appeal to old and new audiences alike. They have a healthy helping of the hard rock sound the band has been feeding to us with a dash of the classic meal we had been used to. “Come For You” and “Drought of ‘85” are two of the slower tracks on the album. They don’t possess much drive, but they definitely hold their own weight on the album, especially “Drought of ‘85.” The song doesn’t offer much musically but lyrically it’s the quintessential meaning behind who Maylene was and who Maylene has become....full text
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