Mayan - Antagonise

Mayan - Antagonise

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(CD/LP, Nuclear Blast USA, 2014)

I never considered MAYAN as something more than just a side-project, since it is a well-known fact that Mark Jansen is the main driving force behind EPICA. What is also known is Mark’s love for Death Metal and since EPICA has a – let’s say – softer side, MAYAN seemed to be the perfect way to channel his more extreme writing-needs. MAYAN’s debut was impressive but I really did not think that this would expand into a second full-length, taking also into consideration how busy EPICA are with their next full-length release. So, “Antagonise” comes to challenge the MAYAN debut with a bigger lineup and, I think, with more inspiration in its luggage.

If you have questions about MAYAN’s music affiliation, then “Bloodline Forfeit” will give you a loud answer via the genuine Death Metal riff (think of Schuldiner’s DEATH), the hard-hitting drums and Jansen’s deep growling vocals. But that is not all because the latest addition in the studio-lineup (I think he has already been onstage with the band) is Henning Basse whose melodic and still powerful singing pushes the MAYAN envelope expanding the composing-versatility. Laura Macrì is another lineup addition (Floor Jansen did not have a lot of time for this one), handling the soprano singing, so expect to get multiple flavors that are excellently combined with the Death Metal boundaries. “Burn Your Witches” pushes the scales towards melody as Henning sings for the biggest part, while the pompous orchestrations add a dramatic layer supporting the lyrics and the general album’s concept. By the way, the album’s cover artwork is amazing and if you take some time to observe it, you will understand the lyrics’ theme where the band is not choosing sides but expresses concerns and ideas, being a nutritious food for thought. Yeah, “Redemption - The Democracy Illusion” works in this direction but also is a powerful track kicking in with a solid double-bass drum rhythm section and awesome staccato guitar action. The keyboards seem to have a more air-time here, inviting more Progressive Metal references but this does not over-complicate things, so the bearing is still towards Death Metal. Another fine example of MAYAN’s extended composing is “Redemption - The Democracy Illusion” where the keyboards melodies are beautifully combined with the growling, the orchestrations and killer main riff while leaving the space required for Henning Basse’s vocals to shine.

“Devil In Disguise” got more plays during the first album spins due to the headbanging riff-lead rhythm section and the – yet again – epic singing by Basse who later on changes places with Mark pushing the songs into more extreme Metal territories. “Insano” comes to calm things down for while with acoustic guitar arpeggios and Laura Macrì’s lead-singing the lyrics written in the Italian language, something I believe fits better to the soprano vocals. In any way, this song works also as the calm-before-the-Death-Metal storm entitled “Human Sacrifice”; the drums-reach blast-beat bpms, so there will be a lot of headbanging involved, while the guitar leads once again shine with sniper-precision. Ok, there is a break with some more soprano singing but this does not affect the brutality that remains in high levels. “Enemies Of Freedom” takes a swing at the most popular debate in the US regarding about the right-to-bear arms but according Mark there is no choosing sides issue (after all, this is not a black-and-white subject). Musically, the song carries a theatrical character having the two-male dialogue-singing, enhancing the dramatics along with some excerpts from politicians speaking about this subject. Hands-down, the most chilling excerpt statement reads “...for every insane killer in America, schools are the safest plane to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk...” and then lets the music express all the feelings born from this line.

It’s been a long time since I had listened to a Progressive Death Metal album as good as “Antagonise”. This album has character and, most importantly, the complexity of the compositions leave also room to breathe, so the listener is not feeling overwhelmed by everything happening in every song. Even if it is too early, I think MAYAN have already reached a music-writing peak, so I can still have hopes about a EPICA/MAYAN tour, right? Seriously now, get this one and dive deep in the music and the lyrics because the genuine Progressive Metal should also be challenging one’s mind.

9/10 


Links:

www.MayanOfficial.Com
www.FaceBook.Com/MayanBand
www.Twitter.Com/MayanOfficial


Tracklist:

01. Bloodline Forfeit
02. Burn Your Witches
03. Redemption - The Democracy Illusion
04. Paladins Of Deceit - National Security Extremism Part 1
05. Lone Wolf
06. Devil In Disguise
07. Insano
08. Human Sacrifice
09. Enemies Of Freedom
10. Capital Punishment
11. Faceless Spies - National Security Extremism Part 2


Lineup:

Laura Macrì - Soprano Vocals
Henning Basse - Clean Vocals (clean)
Rob van der Loo - Bass
Jack Driessen - Keyboards, Orchestration, Screams
Frank Schiphorst - Guitar
Mark Jansen - Grunts, Screams, Orchestration
Ariën Van Weesenbeek - Drums, Grunts