Dallas Taylor and his bandmates from Maylene And The Sons of Disaster have come a long way since the release of their 2005 self-titled debut. After a good run with Gotee Records' imprint label Mono Vs. Stereo, the boys signed a record deal with Ferret Music in 2006 and began recording new material for their sophomore release. With lyrics focusing on the legend of Ma Barker and her gang of sons, as well as lyrics about faith and heavenly consequences for evil actions, a number of devout fans were left wondering what Dallas Taylor would do next. The new material from their second studio release, II, did not offer anything new musically, but it opened the door for a number of fans who loved southern rock and hardcore metal. With two excellent independent releases and the original members from Underoath replacing half of Maylene's lineup, expectations for their third studio album could not be any higher.
III begins with "Waiting On My Deathbed," which starts off slow with a few cricket and frog sounds in the background, followed by a simple banjo riff, then drifts into a full-throttle southern metal song that will be sure to please any fan of the group. The song structure and style of "Settling Scores By Burning Bridges" brings to mind more of the band's early days with one long continuous verse: no chorus or bridge is present. Dallas Taylor's traditional screaming voice is seen throughout the album, but what is impressive is that he (along with help from a few other members) experiments more with a higher and lower pitch vocal range on the tracks "Just A Shock," "Settling Scores By Burning Bridges," and "Last Train Coming." Even more impressive is the band's decision to have more sing-along type rock songs such as "Step Up," and "Listen Close." Fans of the hardcore genre might disregard these two tracks, but both songs are a joy to listen to and it is nice that the band is trying new things.
However, the band's versatility with the vocals ends there and they did not create anything different that fans have not already heard from their first two releases. Even more disappointing on this release are eleven songs clocking the album less than 39 minutes, which is a little short for a metal fan like myself to enjoy. A positive high note on III, however, is that former Underoath guitar players Kelly Scott Nunn and Chad Huff both add a great mix of guitar riffs and solos throughout this release. It was quite overwhelming to read some of the lyrics to "Oh Lonely Grave," a song that tells the story of a killer seeking redemption from God and asking Death to bring him home. The album closes beautifully with the southern instrumental track "The End Is Here. The End Is Beautiful."
Once again, Dallas Taylor and his band have stuck with the same formula and have not attempted to surpass their previous material. Other than experimenting with the vocals here and there, nothing new takes place on III. Now, that does not go without saying that this new lineup has definitely crafted some of the band's best songs to date. Anyone who loved the first two albums will be more than happy to welcome this third chapter into their music library. With a co-headlining tour with Emery this summer and more tours to follow, it will definitely be a joy to hear Maylene And The Sons of Disaster play these new songs live. A great rock album that leads me to wonder: what will they do for chapter IV?- Review date: 6/24/09, written by Fred Keel of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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