Sound — 7
Maylene & The Sons of Disaster may have a little bit of 'core' influence, but there is no doubt that, for the most part, they are just good ol' southern metal. They cement that notion even further with their newest release simply titled "III" (A logical follow-up to "II", but not terribly creative). With this latest album, they decided to go back to their country flavor, but this definitely doesn't mean that they are lacking the energy. Dallas Taylor's vocals are generally pretty raspy and border the edge of screaming every once and awhile, but there are some clean vocal diamonds in the rough. The guitars are provided by Chad Huff, Kelly Scott Nunn, and Jake Duncan. It might seem like overkill to have 3 guitarists, but they still manage to balance things out. Bassist Roman Havaland and drummer Matt Clark, while not standing out greatly, provide a steady base for the rest of the band in terms of rhythm. If you're a fan of southern, bluesy hooks and riffs, then you'll be pleased with this album. Song Breakdown: 01. Waiting On My Deathbed: straight from the bayou, cajun-style banjo intro, works into an overdriven groove, good solo at 3:20. 02. Settling Scores By Burning Bridges: fast-paced start, lots of tempo changes, progressive-sounding riff mixed in at beginning 03. Just A Shock: tremolo intro, banjo-like, good chorus, could use some more riffing. 04. Last Train Coming: similar to songs from "II", good chorus section, but average song. 05. Step Up (I'm On It): great song, slide intro, banjo in the verses, catchy chorus, good buildup to an equally good solo (2:20), an all around solid song. 06. Listen Close: fun listen, catchy vocals, good guitar-work/riffing, talk-box sounding solo at 2:42. 07. The Old Iron Hills: definite southern song, good guitar interlude at the latter end, average overall. 08. No Good Son: average song, but the riffs and soloing in the song can be pretty catchy. Love the riff at 1:00 particularly. 09. Harvest Moon Hanging: fast-paced start, catchy chorus, average guitar-work. 10. Oh Lonely Grave: very dynamic song, could have started the album with this one, but it fits here too. Country/bluegrass intro, makes a big conversion to metal at 1:05, cool instrumental at 1:35. 11. The End Is Here... The End Is Beautiful: good closer, quiet and reflective, emotional orchestration, still has that bayou feel to it. Maylene's last album seemed to me to suffer from similar songs, but this album seems to succeed in giving each one a distinct flavor. The sound may not be for metalhead elitists or for bluegrass fans, but for the open-minded it is a pretty good package.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrical basis for this album seems to be based on personal reflections. The first and last songs ("Waiting On My Deathbed", "Oh Lonely Grave") are both reflections on death. "Listen Close" is almost a ballad to what could easily be his wife and home. A good portion of the song are about reflecting on the past and seeing things that could have been better, but they also express a contentment with the way things are. "The Old Iron Hills" is a reflection of the "good times" when things were simpler. It is hard to discern while listening to the songs sometimes, but several of the songs are very poetic in nature. As far as vocals go, Taylor relies on his raspy voice, but manages to give it several different sounds with varying amount of grittiness. A guest singer from Atlanta (unnamed) does the intro vocals for "Oh Lonely Grave", but Taylor still offers up some good cleans (ex. "Listen Close").
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, I think the thing that sells me on this album the most is that Maylene's music just seems to make metal more fun and less dark for when you're not in that "brutal" mood. The best songs on this album are "Step Up (I'm On It)", "Listen Close", and "Oh Lonely Grave". I would probably buy this one again so I could throw it on in my car every now and then. Like I said earlier, Maylene isn't for everybody, but if you're a metal fan who also loves a little dirty, down-home rock and roll, try it out. I'm sure you'll catch yourself headbanging somewhere while you're listening to it.