Maylene and the Sons of Disaster – IV – 1.5/5
I'll make no secret of the fact that I was won over by their last album; the sudden realisation that rather than playing to their metalcore roots they'd since taken a far more southern rock route, an idea that tickled my ear buds as the list of contemporary musicians that fit the bill don't come all too often. So with that in mind, I counted down the days until I could see the album they'd been coveting, but telling everyone that most overheard phrase 'it's our best yet.' I suppose it really depends on how you'd define 'best,' but for me, that word would not be seen anywhere near this release. In fact, on reflection I wonder if their influences include Madball (NYHC) and Nickelback, because if you slammed them both together you'd probably end up with something similar to this. Which is great if that's your thing, but to me that sounds like a fucking atrocity.
A major component to their sound was always the guitar interplay; banjos or acoustic guitars beneath the rhythm and the lead complementing it all with some tasty southern riffs. Here they've all too often dumbed it all down to a basic chord progression, which is just plain boring to listen to when compared to what came before it. All too often I'm awaiting the song to kick off with a frenzy, to deliver on something that actually makes me rock, but at best the opening track might make you apathetically nod your head and then it's all downhill from there. The rhythm has had his distortion levels pumped to the point that any time he tries to do something a little creative it gets shrouded in a muddy mystery; the very few times a riff actually manages to break a groove (the intro for “Open Your Eyes” or “Fate Games” for example) it all dies down for the song, which can often feel like one long breakdown. Except when the solo's hit and it all feels like a breakdown within a breakdown (was inception another influence? “Dude, lets put like...a breakdown INSIDE a breakdown”).
If all that wasn't bad enough, the vocals have stopped providing the raw energy that they once did, now opting for a rasp-free clean tone that just sounds like he's stopped caring; emotion was never something he did well, he was always the man for epic catchy lines, and if this is his new musical direction then this is a band that won't take long to bomb entirely. It at times get's so bad (see “Faith Healer”) that it feels like he's trying to make modern rock out of the Beatles! In fact the only member of this band who doesn't feel like he's gotten lazy is the drummer, and he wasn't anything particularly special to begin with; incredibly simple yet aggressive and hard hitting drum lines registering all too mechanically keep the band trying to wade above the shit they've created. Maylene surprised me with “III,” I thought I'd misjudged them, that they were more than just 'half of Underoath' and that they could come out with something worthy of my time. With “IV” they've proven that was all just dumb luck. It's said that given a thousand monkeys infinite time that they'd eventually re-write the entire works of Shakespeare. Five monkeys, ten minutes.
Highlights: None really. I guess at least it's consistent...