Maylene and the Sons of Disaster – III – 4/5
I remember hearing about this band a number of years ago, it might have actually been for their debut, and their name was plastered over Metal Hammer with the words “greatest metalcore band since Slipknot” or something equally off putting, and quite frankly it's no surprise I never bothered looking them up. But mis-labelling genres can be a real problem. I wouldn't call this metalcore at all; hell, I wouldn't even call it metal. There is a certain element of hardcore punk to the vocals – the guy came from Underoath so really, that's to be expected – and some of them melodies, but for the most part it just feels like the harder side of the rock spectrum. They are, however, so Southern in their banjo playing and slow twanging melodies that they make Lynyrd Skynyrd sound like they may well have arrived from another continent.
Much of the strength derives from the guitars, often harmonising and working with one another in a distinctly constrasting manner; the deep, brutish chug of the bass-laden riffs never falling prey to monotony, but always capable of delivering something unheard of in the track preceding it and overlayed by the simplistic twang, sharply cutting through the sound to make itself known. The lack of creativity in some of their tracks, failing to set them apart from an already well populated rock scene, seems to be on their mind but they're making a conscious effort to rectify the problem in not only the varying vocals but implementing welcome breaks in the form of gentle violins, the furious banjo intro, and the almost ambient piano work to close it all. And if a track fails to separate itself from other contemporaries it rarely fails to distinguish itself from the rest of the tracks that this album offers.
Excessive post-production work removing all the dirt from their musical fingernails and the occasional cliché pop-like catchy chorus line slow down what should have been an all out rock tune and prevent this album from being all it could have been. The volume levels are well balanced with the drums registering maybe a touch too mechanically and the guitars being loud and clear underneath the vocals, with only the bass really getting lost in the mix, which is nothing particularly unusual. There are a few misses in their track list but they're outnumbered by the sheer wealth of blues-laden crunchy riffs and Southern grooves that demand the volume be turned up, irrespective of how loud it is at the time. It's nothing new, clever or even particularly original, and yet despite all the derogatory comparisons, it feels as though more than just reminiscing about the Southern rock bands of the past, they're trying to pick up where they left off. There's still work to be done, but their situation never feels complacent or through a lack of trying, and on this road things can only improve.
Highlights: Waiting on my Deathbed, Step Up (I'm On it), Oh Lonely Grave