The Birmingham, Alabama rock group Maylene and the Sons of Disaster has offered up a dish of a different flavor. At the core of the band’s material, Ma Barker and her criminal sons were often the influence of lyrics and the overall concept for their first three albums. IV departs from that vision, stripping away the metal licks and offering more personal, meaningful lyrics in their stead.
“In Dead We Dream” is probably as close to Maylene’s signature sound as you’ll get on this album; Dallas’s vocals are at their grittiest and the musical breakdown is littered with metal nuances. After that, the album takes a sharp left turn and begins unveiling a slew of southern alternative-rock tracks. The new sound provides a platform for frontman Dallas Taylor to show a different side to his vocals which we only caught glimpses of on songs like “Tale of the Runaways” and “Listen Close” from previous albums.
“Faith Healer” is a love it or hate it track. The band ventures into totally
untouched territory (for them) and features pop-rock influences and a catchy (though
not anthematic) chorus. Dallas sings, “Lay your hands upon my shoulders, lay your hands across my brow, give me something to believe in right before you bring me down.”
“Killing Me Slow” definitely proves that this album is indeed still alive and kicking. Bawdy, unusual guitars and an infectious chorus make it a pleasing semblance to Maylene’s former albums, while “Taking On Water” brags of heavy Lynard Skynard influence. “Come For You” is a highlight; it manages the perfect balance of southern rock without sounding tired or gimmicky. The lyrics feel very personal and Dallas sings yearningly, “Watch and wait, hesitate; the more I push the more you separate. I would walk the ends of earth just to set you free from the misery.”
“Never Enough” is a favorite of mine. The verses are tense and sound unique to
its sibling tracks, while metal influences are reintroduced in the breakdown. Dallas’s vocals sound superb when he strains, “So was it worth it? Did I deserve it?” Maylene always ends their albums with slower, beautifully composed songs; they definitely
deliver with “Drought of ’85.” Echoing vocals and an odd vintage, brooding slide guitar paints a somber backdrop for the introspective lyrics. It’s perfection and likely the best song on the album.
Many fans were disappointed with the band’s departure from their old sound; Taylor even addressed those people in a mini-tirade on Facebook stating, “You will not be missed.” I
think many of those who were disappointed had valid reasons, but bands mature and their sound evolves. Whether this album was a step forward or backward for Maylene is simply in the ears of the beholder. However, if you’re not familiar with their previous work, IV is a
great opportunity to dive in!