Wednesday, September 14

MaYaN - MaYaN (2011)


Created by vocalist Mark Jansen (Epica), keyboardist Jack Driessen, and guitarist Frank Schiphorst, MaYaN is a band of many very different musicians, gathered together into one band – makes me think of Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon. MaYaN plays symphonic death metal, a confusing mix of Epica’s heaviest parts and typical death metal.

The vocals on this album are very diverse. I mean we have grunts, screams, choirs, and the “average” sympho-metal vocals. As for vocalists, we have Mark Jansen, Ariën van Weesenbeek and Jack Driessen on grunts and screams, Simone Simons, Floor Jansen and Laura Macrì as the choir and clean female vocals, and Henning Basse on clean male vocals.  With such a line-up, it’s bound to be good, right? It’s a wonderful combination, and I’m sure it was intended as that. To me, it sounds as if the choir and few solos are destroyed by grunts and screams. I usually enjoy the combination, but here? No. It’s beauty and the beast, only that the beast takes over entirely.

It’s obvious that Mark Jansen is behind this; there are clear similarities to Epica’s latest stuff, especially in terms of instrumentation and song structure. However, the drums, guitars, and keyboards are far more compact than in Epica’s music, sacrificing the grandiose factor. The connection between each element is present, but very weak, and the band members don’t work so well as a unit.  The guitar solos end up sounding as incomplete as the lyrics. There are some calm, quiet, and beautiful solo parts; Simone is wonderful and there is a great solo by Laura in “Essenza Di Te”, which unfortunately but inevitably crashes into grunts and rough death metal.

After having read through the lyrics, I have to say that I’m not impressed. They’re repetitive, and the metaphors are very hard to understand, as well as sometimes being hilarious in both content and wording: "Care for the canine/But hack and chop the pig to hell" and "They will gain status that could open the cage/Before our rights are emptied to zero". At least there’s no Latin here, so it’s a tad easier to understand the non-English parts. Sadly, that doesn’t mean they make sense, and neither does the rest of the album.

I had hoped Mark Jansen had somehow improved his abilities as a songwriter, but it turns out he hasn’t. I highly doubt his abilities as a composer; the first time I heard this album I thought it was a mess. As if it was supposed to be a masterpiece, but something went wrong and it ended up being a symphonic debacle.

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Tora’s rating: 0.75/5.

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