Overtly religious rock music has never been the easiest pill to swallow. While there’s nothing wrong with faith, it is rare that groups effectively blend their message into songs and keep it from being blatant worship music. After leaving metalcore darlings Underoath, singer Dallas Taylor formed Maylene and the Sons of Disaster in an attempt to continue pairing his Christian ethos with his metal lifestyle.
On Maylene’s first two full-lengths—the aptly titled I and II—the group was not all that different from Taylor’s alma mater. Both groups infused metalcore with pop choruses, only with Underoath finding more commercial success. It was on III when Maylene began to focus more on standard rock ‘n’ roll, something that IV continues.
“In Dead We Dream” opens the album, boasting metallic riffs that feel uniquely Southern. It’s as if Mastodon scaled back the technical prowess and focused on writing sing-along choruses. It’s not an ineffective track, but one that finds itself more closely aligned to modern-rock acts such as Breaking Benjamin instead of anything genuinely metal.
For most of IV, it adheres stringently to this form. There’s little differentiation between tracks. It’s a standard rock record that doesn’t come close to being mediocre. If anything, Maylene proves that consistency is important, and in this instance, it’s being consistently abhorrent.
Taylor is not one for metaphor or analogy, or so his lyrics would suggest. In Maylene, he’d much rather would wear his Jesus fish on his sleeve. When he sings of heaven, it’s not a reference; it’s genuinely him singing about how awesome heaven is. These lyrics are—at best—weak, but when they are brought to the forefront on substandard power ballads such as “Faith Healer (Bring Me Down)” and “Taking On Water,” it is all the more outlandish. On these ballads, Maylene comes dangerously close to paying homage to certain glam metal acts from the 1980s like Mötley Crüe or Posion.
Maylene’s IV isn’t poorly executed. Each musician is adept at his respective instrument. It isn’t even problematic that the group is paying homage to groups that would best be forgotten.
The true issue with IV is the fact that Maylene is not only trying to position itself in an irrelevant genre, but that the band is doing such a poor job of it.
By the time that IV finally comes to a close, there’s nothing worth remembering. It’s a wash of generic riffs, 3 Doors Down-esque choruses, and some really, really cheesy lyrics about Jesus. This record is watered down in an attempt to be palatable for a mass market, or so it would seem. Maylene was never all that great to begin with, but IV is a failure on almost every level.
Maylene and the Sons of Disaster – IV tracklist:
- “In Dead We Dream”
- “Save Me”
- “Faith Healer (Bring Me Down)”
- “Open Your Eyes”
- “Killing Me Slow”
- “Taking On Water”
- “Fate Games”
- “Come for You”
- “Never Enough”
- “Cat’s Walk”
- “Drought of ’85”
- “Off to the Laughing Place”