For Fans Of
If you caught Veil Of Maya live during Northlane’s Free Your Mind tour last year, then you would have seen the band at what some might consider their peak. Drummer Sam Applebaum (easily one of the greatest last names ever) was tight, controlled, and played coolly. Guitarist and Gustavo Fring lookalike, Marc Okubo, shredded and riffed away like few guitarists in this day of progressive metal can. One look at bassist Dan Hauser and you could tell that he was playing with real passion. And former vocalist Brandon Butler loved every goddamn second of it. But that was 2014. This is 2015, and we have a new Veil Of Maya album with a new pair of lungs screaming at us, so how does ‘Matriarch’ compare to the VOM of old?
Well, it still sounds mostly like the band’s previous work. The key word is ‘mostly’, as the introduction of clean vocals walk out down the runway to mixed reviews of harsh booing and rabid applause. See, when the brilliant ‘Mikasa’ (Attack On Titan reference!?) dropped it generated a lot of buzz online because douche bags the world over don’t like clean vocals in their Veil Of Maya soup. Well tough fucking shit guys, as this reviewer believes that this only amplifies and excels the band’s already brilliant sound, instead of hindering it. The new vocalist Lukas Magyar can scream just as well as Butler ever could, and with the added element of his great singing range, it only adds another dynamic, intricate layer to their sound.
There are 12 songs on ‘Matriarch‘ and each and every song is a real standout, and the listener is never ever bored nor will you be going through the motions as this record keeps things healthily varied.
The head-bobbing ‘Phoenix’ is the usual heavy Veil Of Maya through and through, and it sounds just like the material off 2012’s wicked full-length ‘Eclipse’. So what does that mean? It means it’s a fucking solid song, that’s what it means. The same goes for the rhythmically chaotic ‘Teleute’, which you could summarise as being a rhythmic exercise rather than an actual song, but that just makes it all the better, and it has one sweet guitar solo to match, courtesy of Chelsea Grin’s Jason Richardson. ‘Aeris‘ is filled with catchy guitar riffs and clean vocals, and the more commercial sounding metalcore anthem of ‘Daenerys‘ does allow for the album’s pace to slow down (just a little bit) and to let you catch a breath, which is welcomed and needed. ‘Three-Fifty‘ is another hectically heavy track, ‘Mikasa‘ has by far the biggest chorus of the album, and ‘Lisbeth‘ is the dirty, progressive, eccentric and melodic side of the band all wrapped up into one to round out the record.
While this record doesn’t have a bad song on it, there’s no doubt that some will definitely notice the shifting tones between the songs. The songs range from being here brutal and heavy, to rhythmic and groovy, to soaringly clean metalcore, to being progressive, to everything in between. But it never feels forced, nor does it feel like the band are trying to branch out to being “commercial” or what have you.
There are also some supposed pop-culture references strewn throughout the record. Leeloo was a character from The Fifth Element, Aeris, apart from being the god of war, is a playable character from Final Fantasy VII (and whose death was quite possibly the saddest thing ever seen from a 90’s game). Lucy and Nyu seem to reference the split personality of Elfen Laid’s protagonist, Ellie could be referencing The Last Of Us heroine, and Mikasa, as stated above could be a reference to a character from what has arguably been the best anime in years, Attack On Titan (seriously, that shit is insanely good). Of course, the most well known one that will stick out is Daenerys. While the Game Of Thrones series can go climb up it’s own arsehole for all this reviewer cares, the song itself is one of the more melodic and epic tracks of the dozen.
Ah, nerd culture, you glorious thing, you.
Of course, most of that is just speculation, we could be completely wrong (yo Veil Of Maya – get in contact and let’s have a chat about it!). But what’s not completely wrong here is the band’s sound, their direction here, or their tight delivery of this truly fantastic album. ‘Matriarch‘ really is as good as it comes.
With the exception of clean vocals, it’s still Veil Of Maya, and if you’re that upset by that prospect, then just go listen to the old stuff and hate on the band away from us normal people. ‘Matriarch’ is a grand record; it’s heavy and aggressive, but it’s also melodic and filled with powerful and beautiful instrumentation. ‘Matriarch’ really does seem like a natural progression for Veil Of Maya, and it is easily their best record to date. So, if you’re a terrible human being and you forgot to get your mother something over the weekend, go get this album for her as a late Mother’s Day present. She’ll love it, trust us.