Who: Birmingham, Alabama's Maylene and the Sons of Disaster come by their thunderous, southern-fried hard rock honestly. Frontman Dallas Taylor honed his roar with Christian metalcore outfit Underoath before splitting with that band in 2003. Noting he was "ready for a change," the singer left his hometown of Ocala, Florida, and headed to Birmingham, where a chance hang at his roommate's band practice planted the seeds for MATSOD. "I didn't think I'd pay music for a long time. I just wanted to have fun for the evening," Taylor says. But the one-night stand became a committed relationship, one born in classic rock, tempered in metalcore and screamo and boasting a deeply spiritual core. Taylor weaves tales of redemption, justice and final judgment into the band's lyrics, but with a light touch. "We have our beliefs, but we're not out here to ram them down people's throat," Taylor says.
Sounds Like: After cutting their teeth on heavier fare, Taylor and his Maylene mates were keen to get back to their roots for latest album, III. "We wanted to do something that was different from us, from what we'd done," Taylor says. "I grew up on classic rock, country and southern rock, so we said let's take all that and start a band around it. It was almost showing respect to our childhood. When you're younger, you try to run from it, but the older you get, you end up going back to the things you grew up with." The result is a bluesy, boozy brutal mix that's part swagger, part scream — modern swamp rock — that earned the band supports slots with Clutch, P.O.D., Throwdown, Zao and Taylor's former mates Underoath. Despite the old school leanings of their sound, MATSOD still bring the intensity of their past hardier, heavier gigs to the stage. "When you play heavy music, you can just let everything loose. You can act like a kid. I think that's something I'll never want to lose," Taylor says.
• The band charged into Tennessee's Buffalo River to shoot the "Deliverance"-themed video for "Step Up." "It was the real deal," Taylor says. "We hit some rapids actually tipped over. I had to kill a water moccasin at one point. They were always around where I grew up around them, so I was used to it." Keep an eye out for Crazy Horse canoe rental in the clip as well.
• MATSOD recorded its latest at Synchromesh Studios in Birmingham, Alabama. "It might be the creepiest studio in America," Taylor says. The converted store housed the headquarters of the KKK in the '30s and '40s, and many claim the building is haunted. "That place has a lot of bad history," Taylor says. "You get that feeling like you're not alone. We always had a bit of adrenaline going when recording."
• The band draws its name ૼ and a good bit of its inspiration — from the infamous Ma Barker and her offspring, the Barker-Karpis Gang. "She was gunned down in my hometown," Taylor says. "She was a Bible thumper. She would pray for the boys safety when they would go out to commit robberies. In her mind, she thought they were doing the work of God. She thought she had a higher calling, and it was actually the exact opposite. It's divine justice. It's that kind of story that intrigued me."
Get It Now: III is in stores now on Ferret Music. Click above to watch the video for "Step Up."