Maylene and the Sons of Disaster/Holy Tongues/Monolith/Timberwolves

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, January 9, 2012

In early December, a friend and I were browsing local concert websites to see if anything interesting was coming through before 2012 rolled through. While the number of acts touring through Baltimore and Washington D.C. always seems to slow down between the middle of November and January, one show in particular caught our eye. Maylene and the Sons of Disaster was in the middle of a headlining tour and Baltimore happened to be one of the stops. Maylene is a group that I have personally wanted to see live for a number of years, as the hardcore turned southern rock style of Dallas Taylor and company has been an infectious combination. For one reason or another every time the band came into the surrounding area over the last few years I was unable to attend, but this wasn’t going to be an opportunity that would slip away.

As it turns out, this date didn’t feature any touring support, which gave several local acts the chance to perform and show themselves off to the crowd. While the crowd was fairly small in size (and I had to wonder how well this date had been promoted as even when Maylene played the room was only about a quarter full), the local support seemed to give it their all. The first group of the evening was known as Timberwolves, and they immediately launched into a mixture of musical styles that can best be described as quirky and slightly off-kilter. Timberwolves goes for an experimental sound that mixes very traditional southern/psychedelic rock with up-tempo punk and hardcore. While this may sound similar to what Maylene first dabbled in when they formed in 2005, what made these guys different was the balance of mellow and laid back material and sudden loud, noisy segments. Timberwolves often transitions between the two extremes on a whim and the change was often a bit jarring, simply because of the change in volume and the sudden abrasiveness of the instrumentals. The vocal arrangements followed a similar mix of sounds, combining a slightly dry drawl with raw, off-kilter screaming. It was clear the crowd wasn’t sure what to make of these guys and that the band themselves thrive on being different, as at one point they demanded the audience boo them after one of their songs. But Timberwolves put on an energetic and interesting performance, and I found myself interested in seeing them again. Check the Bandcamp link at the end of this article to hear for yourself, as the group definitely has some intriguing ideas.

Once Timberwolves had left the stage I was curious to see what the next band would be like, as it was clear that the local openers would be fairly diverse. A group called Monolith took to the stage, and proceeded to do their best to tear the venue apart with aggressive hardcore. There are a ton of acts that have used this name over the years, but despite this the band was quickly able to win me over with their riffs and the sheer amount of energy that they had throughout their entire performance. I’ve noticed over the years that local acts, particularly those in the hardcore and metalcore realms, sometimes get off to a strong start but then run out of energy by the end of their set. But Monolith never faltered and every song they launched into was just as noisy and aggressive as the last, which is exactly what I enjoy from this type of material. The band’s lead singer had your standard scream/growl that has become commonplace in this genre, but there was just enough variation in his pitch that it was able to avoid becoming repetitive or grating. Admittedly Monolith wasn’t able to dodge one of the other pitfalls of the hardcore genre, which is that the songs did start to blend together before the instrumentalists had finished performing. But they are on the right track, and with a bit more growth and progression in the future they could start to make a name for themselves outside of the local market.

The final local act for the evening was Holy Tongues, a new post punk and hardcore mixture that also skews towards an alternative rock sound. Two of the members used to be in Ruiner, which some of you may recall as one of the champions of the Maryland hardcore scene and a group that was able to achieve success on both a national and local level before disbanding in late 2010. It’s important to note that Holy Tongues sounds nothing like Ruiner though, and the only resemblance the band has to their hardcore counterpart is the occasional screamed/shouted vocal part and sudden fast pace flurry of drums and guitar. The main focus of this particular band seems to be more about melody and atmosphere, as well as some technical drum parts that give these guys a very different sound. As the drummer unleashes a plethora of fills and beats, the guitars and bass use ample effects to create soaring soundscapes. It certainly resembles some of the more progressively oriented post hardcore bands I’ve listened to in recent years, and instantly captivated me. One of the areas that could turn a few people off depending on their preferences is the lead vocals, which take a melodic approach and at times feel just a little flat (not in pitch but in overall delivery). It wasn’t something that kept me from enjoying the group, but glancing around the room you could tell that some people were not sure what to make of it. Holy Tongues is still pretty new and this was one of their first handful of performances, but they’re a local band that seems to be worth watching.

Finally it was time for Maylene to take the stage, and I was anxious to see what material the band would choose to perform during the course of their set. Over the last five or six years the group has continued to transform from their hardcore meets southern rock combination into a more contemporary southern rock sound that had some mainstream crossover. While listeners have had mixed opinions on this change, I’ve always felt that no matter which direction Maylene has gone in that they have pulled it off with strong results and catchy songs. The group’s newest album, IV, is easily their cleanest to date and features Dallas Taylor singing more than ever before. As one might expect, a significant portion of the band’s set is currently dedicated to this material but when it is performed live Taylor gives it an extra shot of aggression as he adds some screaming into the mix. The guitar riffs, which are what has always attracted me to this band, transfer over perfectly live and Sonar was able to provide strong enough sound quality to really make them come through and wash over the audience. The rest of the material in Maylene’s set consisted of a number of songs from their third album (which is closest in sound to the newest release) as well as some fan favorites from the first two, in which Dallas Taylor made the best use of his trademark screams. Although there were a few more early songs I would’ve liked to hear live, I understand that the group wants to play what is most recent and entice people to check out the new material. It really seemed as though the band was giving it their all throughout the set, and because of the strong performance I walked away with an even deeper appreciation for their music. If you’re into southern rock with a bit of a bite or have listened to any of Maylene’s four albums, check them out when they roll through your town as you won’t be disappointed.

Links:

Timberwolves- http://twolves.bandcamp.com/
Monolith- www.myspace.com/monolithhardcore
Holy Tongues- http://holytongues.bandcamp.com/
Maylene and the Sons of Disaster- http://www.mayleneandthesonsofdisaster.com/

Leave a Reply