Review: Veil Of Maya

As I wander down the vast and echoing corridors of the Hall of Metal, I sometimes find myself stumbling upon acts that surprise me, and suck me in from the opening riff. It definitely is not a regular occurrence. No, the truth is that I have become increasingly cynical when it comes to the music I ingest; that counts double for heavy metal. If something doesn’t strike me about their sound within three songs—the vocals, the guitar work, the drums, the mixing, what ever— I’m probably out. Therefore, understand that touting Chicago’s metalcore/deathcore monsters, Veil of Maya as a band that everyone should listen’s a big deal coming from such a harsh critic.

veil of maya

While skipping around through my list of new releases on Spotify I happened upon the two latest singles released by Veil of Maya entitled, “Doublespeak,” and “Overthrow.” The guitar styling of lead guitarist, Mark Okubo felt like meeting with an old friend, but not quite remembering where you know them from. Upon diving down the rabbit hole I found that Veil of Maya are synonymous with a style know as Djent, made popular by Swedish metal legend and Meshuggah guitarist, Fredrik Thordendal. Djent is—as described on Wikipedia, “a style of progressive metal, named for an onomatopoeia for the distinctive high-gain, distorted, palm-muted, low-pitch guitar sound.”

I was immediately a fan.

Official video for "Doublespeak" *article continues below*

Not only have I always loved the pulsing, pounding style of bands like Meshuggah and Sikth, but other aspects of Veil of Maya drew me in as well. As I go back through their catalog there is a clear progression in style and influence without ever jumping the shark and losing sight of what the game is all about: delivering heavy shit with a bit of style. The band’s sound at inception leaned towards a more deathcore sound with use of death metal riffage, hard and fast blast beats, and a bit of a metalcore influence as well. The vocals were gritty and gutteral, leaning heavy on the death metal influence. This is especially clear to hear on the albums, All Things Set Aside(2006), The Common Man’s Collapse(2008), {id} (2010), and Eclipse(2012). But sprinklings of a slight change in style began cropping up on Eclipse and became ever present on their 2015 release, Matriarch. Leaving the deathcore style behind and shifting into a different venue.

Musically there is still plenty of metal to rattle your bones, that did not change. But the infusion of sparingly used synthesizers, melodic choruses, and clean vocals reminiscent of bands like A Day to Remember, and a close similarity in vocal range to Alexisonfire guitarist Dallas Green. One could also compare this style shift to bands like Killswitch Engage (specifically during the period with Howard Jones on the mic), or All That Remains during their album The Fall of Ideals. This is best noted on tracks like my personal favorite “Daenerys,” which is named for the ever popular Game of Thrones character, and Mother of Dragons. The song is filled with crazy guitar riffs, breakdowns, unique time changes, and yet manages to give you some melody to soften the blow. Title track, “Matriach,” lends itself to this description as well making use of ambient sounds, creepy synthesizers that make one feel as though you are entering a macabre circus of the dead, and a sudden and abrupt end that goes directly into a throat punch by track, “Teleute,” which is relentlessly fast and hard from front to back.

The two singles from their forthcoming album, "False Idol" (releasing October 20, 2017 PRE-ORDER HERE)(iTunes Order) set a tone for an album that will surely follow Matriarch with ease. “Doublespeak,” opens hard and fast with their signature style, and makes use of many vocal styles: the verses bring a dueling deathmetal/hardcore growl and screeching, almost black metal scream, while the chorus slides into a smooth, melodic clean vocal and use of piano, synthesizer, and ambient sounds to fill it all out. “Overthrow,” meanwhile, feels very similar. It is clear that the band has found the sound they’ve been looking for. Matriarch is the bridge over the gap between what the band was during Eclipse and what they’ve become with False Idol. The transition was clean, and thus far it has worked.

Veil of Maya look to keep building on the success they’ve already had, and if these two singles show anything, it’s that there will be more yet to come. Talent is talent, and as, “Macho Man,” Randy Savage once said in his promo against then WWF Intercontinental champion, Ricky, “The Dragon,” Steamboat, “The cream always rises to the top.”


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