MaYan have well established themselves as one of the leading symphonic death metal collectives since their 2010 inception. Having at one time or another enlisted some of Metal’s most prestigious players, the true constant and integral backbone of the group lies in their versatile mastermind of Mark Jansen (Epica). Jansen and his most recent lineup are nearing the release of both their ‘Undercurrent’ EP, as well as their third full-length release, ‘Dhyana’. With ‘Dyhana’, MaYan further explore the depths they began digging almost a decade ago, this time with some help from The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, bringing forth some of their most epic works yet.
The organic approach taken to the recording process, with real instruments played by real musicians, for the most part results in a pay off with no expiry date. Most obvious in the deceptively simple playing and blatantly challenging operatic vocal styles provided by Laura Macrì and Marcela Bovio in the records title track. This experience also translates on a larger scale, with a prime example found in “The Veil Of Delusion”. An anthem worthy of battle as its duel vocals, both clean and guttural (the latter of which executed by Jansen and George Oosthoek), are perfectly exchanged over brass sections and distorted guitars.
The established juxtaposition between blistering tracks and somber instrumentations can cause something of a jolting transition from song to song in places. Fortunately, the common ground between orchestration, and particularly clean females vocals, creates a relationship between the two that just about compensates for these rather less than smooth transitions. If it did not, you would still likely still find yourself forgiving it upon hearing the moving aria “Satori”. A piece comprised of the best kind of poison with a keyboard intro courtesy of Jack Driessen that will linger in your ears for days.
Having always had a profound love for larger than life movie scores, it is of little wonder that the band found themselves recording with a live symphonic orchestra, it was the next logical step. Though, ironically, where The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra feel truly successful is often in the less busy compositions. If “Set Me Free”, with all its complexities, feels large in scope, the real charm truly lies in more straightforward instances like the brilliant “Saints Don’t Die”. Such a contrast may appeal to a wider range of listeners, but it may struggle in terms of consistency across the board.
Evolving from a project to a real band rarely comes as a natural progression. More often than not, a great deal of time, finances and heart make up some of the essential ingredients in which it takes to do such a thing. Mayan fans will be pleased to know that Jansen and co gave the band just that, and the results speak for themselves. If a little lacking in smooth transitions, with no bumper between the peaks and valleys, Mayan and The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra still manage to make ‘Dhyana’ the bands most ambitious work thus far.