Maylene and the Sons of Disaster - II (Cover Artwork)

Maylene and the Sons of Disaster

II (2007)


One of the worst things about 90% of the music today is that it takes very little creativity to make it. There are a good amount of bands thinking up new ideas and pursuing creative urges, but there are about 100 times more that are content to re-hash chords, lyrics and ideas from their peers and influences. That being said, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster deserve at the very least a small bit of credit for an attempt at creativity. All bets aside, they are probably the only band to ever write an album about Ma Barker, a figure of organized crime in the south in the 1900s, and her sons. That being said, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster are signed to Ferret (responsible for "music" by Boys Night Out, Lovehatehero and the sort) and they have a former member of Underoath. There's two strikes right there -- I was about ready to write them off altogether. But then there's the music.

While they are hardly revolutionary, the songs take the southern rock / metal hybrid that was hinted at on their (relatively weak) self-titled debut and expands on it. The immediate difference between II and the self-titled album are the expanded dynamics on II. From the get-go with "Memories of the Grove" we see them going different places within a song rather than delegating different styles to different songs. Though the dynamic changes do add some much needed variety, the songs still sound like Maylene, for what it's worth.

The majority of the album is based around kick-your-ass riffs and a tight rhythm section. Songs like "Dry the River" and "Raised by the Tide" (which boasts a killer opening riff) are all about screamed/shouted verses that loosen up as the (usually) more melodic chorus hits.

There is only so much you can do with that formula though, and the Sons choose to drag it out a little too far with subpar filler tracks like "Don't Ever Cross a Trowell" (which sounds like all their worst parts put together). Despite the filler tracks, though, the album doesn't drag too much. When they really hit it (as on the afformentioned "Raised by the Tide") it pushes the entire album along with momentum.

The funny thing is, for as much as they are talked up to be a southern metal / rock / whatever band, their best tracks come when they move as far from that as possible in whichever direction. One of the highlights of their self-titled debut was a track called "Just Wanted to Make Mother Proud." Toned down with background vocals, it was a great breather, but was unfortunately located at the end of the album. II's "Tale of the Runaways" however, blows that out of the water. It is easily the best song on the album as it sways along with a down-south groove that brings you right into a western saloon just before a showdown (as corny as that sounds). The key to the track is that it capitalizes on the feeling that they have been attempting to create with the whole album. The imagery comes through when you slow it down. But, of course, the song is placed second to last (succeeded by the instrumental "The Day Hell Broke Loose at Sicard Hollow"). Screw creative arrangement, the album would have flown much better had "Tale of the Runaways" been anywhere else. The other big deviation they make is with "Wylie," a straight-up metal track that is concise enough to keep attention, but different enough to feel unique.

All in all, it's a relative success. If they can pull their successes through the filler, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster could have a great album ahead of them. For now, with II, they have placed themselves on top of this little subgenre. Though it's no masterpiece, it shows that this band have got more than a really good name.