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MaYaN - Antagonise
Written by Ton Dekkers   
Saturday, 25 January 2014

MaYaN - CD Review
Antagonise


Antagonise

2014
Nuclear Blast
11 Tracks
The Netherlands
English Lyrics


Although not a truly female-fronted band, the vocal contributions of Laura Macri (a full member of MaYaN) and the guest appearances of Marcela Bovio (Stream Of Passion) and Floor Jansen (Nightwish, ReVamp) were more than sufficient for MaYaN’s album to be of interest to Sonic Cathedral readers. Antagonise is over an hour of high-quality, sometime extremely heavy, Symphonic Death Metal. The word “quality” is the most relevant in the description of their style.

Until now, only ladies have been mentioned. The full line-up of MaYaN is:
Mark Jansen (grunts, orchestration) – Epica, Infernorama, ex-After Forever
Jack Driessen (keyboards, screams, orchestration) – ex-After Forever
Henning Basse (clean vocals) – Hypnoside, ex-Metalium, ex-Sons of Seasons
Laura Macri (vocals) – guest vocals Epica (Requiem for the Indifferent)
Frank Schiphorst (guitars) - ex-Symmetry, ex-Control Human Delete, ex-Prostitute Disfigurement
Rob van der Loo (bass) - Epica, Freak Neil Inc, ex-Delain, ex-Sun Caged
Ariën van Weesenbeek (drums) – Epica, Down Till Dawn, HDK, ex-God Dethroned

In the past this would be called a super band. MaYaN surprised us in 2011 with their debut album Quarterpast, featuring strong riffs, grunts, raw vocals, progressive elements and time changes. Could the new album Antagonise keep up with the debut? Without any doubts, the answer is yes.

Those who have never heard MaYaN before, and expect operatic female vocals because of the participation of members of Epica, will find something different. For sure you will hear elements that would fit Epica, and some orchestrations hint directly at their symphonic style, but MaYaN is different. They bring technical high-level -- most of the time very up-tempo -- death metal, accompanied by matching supportive orchestration, balanced clean male vocals and grunts, and (when appropriate) the support of female vocals. Sometimes the orchestration and vocals bring up flavors of Symphony X and Rhapsody of Fire. However, MaYaN is MaYaN.

Usually I don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics, but in this case you can’t ignore then. MaYaN’s fundamentally raw and extreme sound is a great vehicle for social criticism of the political establishment and also as a wake-up call to the world. In the past period, a lot of things happened that undermined democracy and privacy. The MaYaN press release says: “The new album showcases the current condition of our society, in which our freedom and privacy are further limited. The lies and propaganda from governments all over the world, the spying, a so called ‘war on terror’, the insinuated ‘freedom’ we get just to keep us under control[.]” All of this is pretty well reflected in some of the track titles.

The first song is “Bloodline Forfeit”, which opens a little bit weirdly with “canned” sounding drums. Luckily, it’s short; otherwise, you would have turned the volume up. In this Death Metal style opener, Mark’s grunts start before Henning joins in with his power metal vocals. You now know what to expect. “Burn Your Witches” has a heavy opening riff and some symphonic elements, but at the end, it’s a fairly straight-forward song with balanced keys and guitar.

In “Redemption - The Democracy Illusion” the symphonic elements are more dominant: the keys and orchestration are attractive and keep your attention. The guest vocals from Floor Jansen makes it complete. For me, it’s a highlight. “Paladins of Deceit - National Security Extremism Part I” is a catchy track with little surprises like Laura’s vocals. “Lone Wolf” and “Devil In Disguise” with heavy riffs, furious drumming, great orchestration, balanced grunts and (clean) vocals bring us to a break.

In the ballad ‘Insano’ Laura shows her talents. A delicate song with quite some tension in it. With “Human Sacrifice”, we are back to “normal”. Brutal vocals, fast drums, keys and heavy riffs with the operatic vocals of Marcela and, in a slower part near the end, the clean vocals of Henning make this a catchy song. “Enemies Of Freedom” follows the well-known recipe (in this case, a word to be interpreted positively) with some additions (samples) and Laura’s vocals, midway in duet with samples and at the end with the male vocals. “Capital Punishment” opens with pounding drums, heavy riffs and a dominant orchestration. Grunts and female vocals alternate in this song that ends how it started. With the last “Faceless Spies - National Security Extremism Part II”, MaYaN almost provide a summary of all good elements of the album: great riffs, orchestration and keys, brutal drums and the excellent vocals of Henning and Mark are a great close to Antagonise. The solo violin by guest artist Dimitris Katsoulis makes it another highlight of the album.

If the quality of the first two albums I have reviewed in 2014 is representative of what will be released this year, we will have a lot good stuff to enjoy.

Conclusion: Excellent musicians join forces in MaYaN and create a great album. It does not matter whether you have a preference for symphonic or progressive metal, because both are present in Antagonise. I think you will like this album!

8.5 / 10

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