Release: September 21, 2018
For those who are not familiar, MaYaN is a Dutch symphonic death metal band formed in 2010 by vocalist Mark Jansen, guitarist Frank Schiphorst, and keyboardist Jack Driessen. MaYaN currently features in their ranks the incredibly talented Marcela Bovio and Laura Macrì, whose clean and operatic vocals add a touch of elegance to the music and counterbalance George Oosthoek and Mark Jansen’s growls as well as the aggressiveness of the backing instrumental. Over the course of the years MaYaN released two studio albums – “Quarterpast” in 2011, and “Antagonise” in 2014”. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the band were able to make a dream come true, and that is to record an album with a live symphonic orchestra. The end result is “Dhyana” (out September 21 via Nuclear Blast), which was recorded with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
Mastermind Mark Jansen states: “We have worked with all our energy, efforts and passion to create a remarkable album. ‘Dhyana’ makes us all very proud and we can't wait for it to be released.''
The rhythm of freedom
Tornado of thoughts (I don’t think therefore I am)
Saints don’t die
Rebirth from despair
The power process
The illusory self
Maya (the veil of delusion)
The flaming rage of God
Set me free
''With the support of our loyal fans worldwide we were able to record the album with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Because of this and also producer Joost van den Broek's know-how and enormous motivational drive we were able to meet the high standards of the best productions of today. It's needless to say that we are extremely excited!"
As always with anything that involves the creative mind of Mark Jansen, “Dhyana” is a deeply philosophical album, with songs relating to self-awareness, relinquishing the ego and other self-conceited tendencies in order to find out who we truly are. In fact, the title itself, ‘Dhyana’, relates to the moment when the individual mind is absorbed by the heart and melts with the universal mind and you feel total happiness without worries about the past and future. And indeed the opening track and first single release “The rhythm of freedom” is a bombastic piece of symphonic metal which “references the sensation of pure freedom you feel when riding your bike or bicycle” as Mark Jansen stated. It starts off with a very cinematic intro before death metal guitar riffs and pounding drums kick in full force alongside the growls and harsh vocals, turning it into a full blown headbanger. The heaviness continues, and it actually gets even heavier because of fast paced guitars, with “Tornado of thoughts”, where the instrumental overlaps neatly with the backing orchestration to create a dense, melodic sound while the back-and-forth between the male and female vocals gives it a fair amount of dynamism. “Saints don’t die” starts off with a beautiful piano melody and Laura Macrì’s operatic vocals, but soon the urgent guitars and mostly Adam Denlinger’s vocals take charge and veer into melodeath territory with touches of progressive metal coming from the keys. The title track “Dhyana”, and “Satori” are the polar opposite of everything else you will find on this album. “Dhyana” features only acoustic guitar beautifully played by Merel Bechtold, the dramatism of the cello played by Elianne Anemaat, and the operatic vocals and graceful harmonies of Marcela Bovio and Laura Macrì. Goosebumps guaranteed. As for “Satori”, it’s a piano-driven piece with intense backing orchestration and Laura Macrì’s superb operatic vocals.
The rest of the album follows in the same heavy path as before, with a neat blend of the hefty instrumental with the force and grace of the orchestra, which really gives the songs a very lively feel. As such, “Rebirth from despair”, and “The power process” features Marcela Bovio’s not-so-delicate vocals more on both the chorus and the verses, in sharp contrast to Mark Jansen’s harsh vocals and the bass-driven beats. The lengthy “The illusory self” alternates between aggressive parts and more mellow ones, with Adam Denlinger’s vocals more in the fore front, especially in the first part of the song, and operatic vocals in the second part. And the orchestral backdrop really shines throughout, giving it a rather powerful Epica feel to it. The dark feel of “Maya (the veil of delusion)” is backed by crunchy guitars, powerful drums, ominous orchestral parts and a maelstrom of overlapping vocals. The interplay between operatic, harsh, and clean vocals is beautifully displayed on “The flaming rage of God”, which also features a killer guitar solo, making it one of my favorite tracks from the album. The album closes on high notes with “Set me free”, where Adam Denlinger’s raspy vocals are again front and center, and the fast-paced guitars and drums build an impenetrable wall of sound.
When a band (or a project) has this many vocalists, it’s always a difficult job to balance everybody’s contribution to the music, and MaYaN does a really good job of accommodating all the different voices they have at their disposal into a cohesive sound, though at times it becomes rather overwhelming to keep track of everything that is happening, especially considering how dense and multi-layered the songs really are. Still, I love how they have taken the classical ‘beauty and the beast’ approach to new heights, and the epic sound of “Dhyana” is a testimony to the way MaYaN have pushed the borders of metal music, setting a new benchmark for both the symphonic metal and death metal genres. This is MaYaN at their best – intense, dramatic, heavy, and classy.
Rating: 9.5 / 10
Mark Jansen – growled and screamed vocals
Jack Driessen – keyboards, screamed vocals
Ariën van Weesenbeek – drums, growled vocals
George Oosthoek – growled vocals
Adam Denlinger – clean vocals
Laura Macrì – clean vocals
Marcela Bovio – clean vocals
Merel Bechtold – guitars
Frank Schiphorst – guitars
Roel Käller – fretless bass