When Underoath vocalist Dallas Taylor traded in bottled water for Budweiser with Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster, you can bet a legion of emo kids felt the urge to risk messing up their perfectly straightened hair doo by scratching their heads. While the groups initial offering showed promise, it's haphazard demeanor generally held it back. "II" on the other hand is the real payoff fans have been waiting for.
A conceptual album centered around turn of the century crime lord Ma Barker and her gang, "II"'s lyrical content may go over the head of most, but it has definitely provided the proper ammunition for this bands Confederate cannon. Reeking of Skynyrd, beer and just enough modern melodic metal to avoid the nostalgic route, the band fire on all cylinders here. Think The Showdown without the arena rock aspirations and you'll be on the right track.
Lingering southern fried riffage leaves a greasy, impressively layered, trail - especially considering the three-pronged guitar assault provided. Another plus is that Taylor knows his limitations and doesn't push past them or fake a gritty accent, instead challenging himself in structure rather than range. In turn, when he does bring in some currrent emocore influence for a breezy ballad, it doesn't sound like two worlds colliding.
Top it off with songs that have an actual progressive flow and a discernable amount of heart and you get a rather enjoyable listen. Sure they have stiff competition from the likes of Clutch and more, but "II" still brings enough 'rawk' to make that old Z28 with the eagle on the hood look far more appealing than it should.
(4 / 5)