Sound — 9
Maylene had a great tone in their first album and the same is true here. Southern metal has never sounded better than with Maylene and her Sons. Though there was less double bass action on the drums than in their previous release, they still retained the intensity they had before, though in a slightly different form than before. I personally would have mixed the album differently, turning up the bass a bit and lowering the bass drum (though that may just have been the stereo I was listening to them through). Where the first album had told of the height of the career of Ma Barker and her sons, this album deals with their falls and their eventual demise. Because of this, "II" takes on a much darker tone than their self-titled release. This is not to say, however, that they have lost the ability to play around like before. Indeed, quite the opposite is proven in the beginning of "Wylie", with an up-tempo intro and the opening words "I feel like hell."
Lyrics — 10
As I said before, the lyrics have become much darker, but also much more thoughtful. Though obscured at times by Dallas' hoarse screams (which have gotten noticeably heavier), the lyrics have taken on much more weight than before. The haunting lyric in "Tales Of The Runaways," "Legends are made in shallow graves" is a simple lyric, but with a meaning that Dallas brings forth quite well. Reading through the lyric book, you'll find that some lines have been capitalized or even put in a larger font than the rest to bring the point of the line home to the reader. One such example is found in the song "Darkest of Kin," a personal favorite of mine, with the line "God make me pay like the Devil I am!" Emboldened, capitalized and a little larger than the rest of the lyrics.
Overall Impression — 10
"II" is definitely another beast than the self-titled album before it. I was a bit scared after hearing "Dry the River" on Maylene's Myspace page, with it's slightly creepy intro and wholly different vocal style for Dallas, but this fear was quickly quenched after listening to the whole album. My personal favorite songs (in no particular order) are: Tales of the Runaways, The Day Hell Broke Loose at Sicard Hollow, Darkest of Kin, Raised by the Tide and Wylie. Quite a few, yes, but they're all awesome songs. The only real thing I have to say that I don't like about this album is the vocal style. I do like the new style, but I also like the style of vocals in their first album. It's not that it's worse than before, just simply different. In fact, Dallas' new vocal style resembles that of his vocal style in his Underoath days. Truthfully, I'm torn in between which I like better, the new, or the old. It's hard to make a decision like that because they are so different. If this album were taken from me, I would beat the person senseless who did it, then buy them the album because it's so good that I understand why they'd want to steal it. With that said, I would not lose this album. Period. Go out and buy this album. FYE, Hot Topic or Best Buy are your best bets on finding it. Though the title of the album is a bit hard to spot from a distance, the cover is easily recognizable with the dead band members being dragged along by a few mysterious men. You should buy this album, if not for the music, then for the awesome pictures taken by Ryan Russell that litter the pages of the lyric booklet.