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Veil of Maya may look like the average overproduced deathcore group on paper, and to some degree they are. But they have a few characteristics distinctively putting them above other groups of their ilk. For example, they have a damn fine guitarist and compelling songwriter in Marc Okubo and a competent vocalist in Brandon Butler. Their songwriting, while not revolutionary is still rather memorable and worthwhile. I've kept my radar on this band for some time and I have noticed that they have changed around a few elements in their sound with each passing release. To an extent those elements come full circle on "Eclipse".
The band has had a tendency of putting instrumental tracks as openers and interludes on their albums. "Eclipse" is no different as "20/200" kicks off showing their skill in blending syncopated one-note riffs with technical yet monotonous drumming. Tracks like these are very "hit or miss" and even experts like Veil of Maya have a hard time making these instrumental numbers memorable or interesting. But this is all redeemed with the following song "Divide Paths" where you feel this album really makes it's true entrance. The lead guitar playing consists mainly of arpeggios and technical noodling above the start-stop chugging of the rhythm guitar. The drumming leans towards the extreme side of metal with frequent use of blastbeats and fast double bass work. The drummer seems to use his kit to it's full potential and you most likely won't have a problem with the drum performance on this record. The guitars are firmly placed in the forefront of the production along with Butler's high pitched screams and dry yet deep growling. The album's production has a pretty "punchy" sound to it. This is especially prominent in sections where all instruments are playing at the same time in a unified manner.
I felt the songs where Veil of Maya convinced the most were on relentless yet progressive tracks like "Winter Is Coming Soon" or "Enter My Dreams". The former starts off in a brutal fashion with blast beats and fast riffs before being interrupted by a melodic section consisting of interesting guitar leads and diverse drumming. Since the lyrical sheet is filled to the brim with words in these short tracks, you can clearly hear the vocalist cramming in as many words as possible in the verse and bridge sections. He alters his pitch in accordance with the sounds stemming from the guitars. Making the instruments and vocals appear interconnected with each other. There are a few, very brief synth/keyboard sections in songs like aforementioned "Winter Is Coming Soon", right before the song reaches it's climax. It's such a shame the two-minute format was implemented on this track considering the song's climax was one of the high points of this album but was too short. As a listener you have to feel disappointed when the song's energy and assault is suddenly killed off as the keyboards come in to lead you into the next song. The band is somewhat bipolar in it's influences. In some sections you will be violated by full-on death metal guitar grinding and drum blasting, then suddenly the song changes pace and goes into a mid-tempo groove. The album feels disjointed and unfocused since the instrumental practice and heaviness are after all the main selling points of this record. When the songwriting and instrumental sections don't match you've got yourself a major problem at hand as a composer. There are a few breakdowns on the album just like you would expect on a deathcore release. Luckily these are the interesting types of breakdowns where the guitar work is polyrhythmic and the drumming lays the foundation for the groovy guitar riffs. Veil of Maya expands less on these kinds of Meshuggah-like expressions than they did on "[id]". I have however always enjoyed their implementation of groovy guitar and drum sections so I wouldn't have minded seeing more of them. The title track is surprisingly not an intricate and complex exercise in technical deathcore but rather a short and melodic instrumental number. It's not a groovy one like the opening track of the record but instead an atmospheric song featuring sweet guitar chords and a long solo in the middle. I enjoyed this song and I hope they do more of them in the future as it broke off the monotony present in the record in elegant style.
I found the instrumental barrage and technical explorations of the former record "[id]" to be more convincing than they were on "Eclipse". With that said I was however not disappointed with this release and have instead found that it has quite a lot of replayability. I do however hope the band finds more balance and consistency in their songwriting and craftmanship on future albums.
Born of Osiris and Veil of Maya, two deathcore bands that are the most unique in the genre. They incorporate progressive elements into their music and most certainly defy the stereotypes that most 'kvlt' metalheads associate with the genre. But, I'm not here to talk about Born of Osiris. I'm here to talk about what I believe to be the superior out of the two, Veil of Maya, and their new album Eclipse. This album is damn good at what it does, not only will you hear what you probably thought to be an oxymoron (good deathcore), you'll also hear a few things that'll surprise you a bit.
The production here is superior to ID, and thankfully so because that is one thing that I thought was lacking in the last album. Here you can hear everything clearly and not one thing overpowers another (at least not in any way that causes a problem). There's no overpowered bass like what you'd here on a typical deathcore breakdown nor is the bass completely buried underneath everything. The extra stuff added doesn't take away from the brutality, and in the moments when just the synth and atmosphere are heard, the uniqueness is only reinforced.
The riffing is less technical this time around, and I think that in this case it works to the band's advantage. I had mentioned it already but the synths and atmospheric elements that this album has would not be very compatible with the more technical and brutal sound that the previous album had. If you were looking for them to progress into a more technical band then I'm sorry to say that this just might not be your album.
The drumming is done pretty well, not really much to say about it. The drummer is certainly no Flo Mounier but he gets the job done for sure and does not take away from the greatness of the album. The vocals, on the other hand, are quite exceptional. I thought that Brandon Butler could have done a better job on the last album, he sounded sort of tired and strained. Here his voice has resonated with authority and force. Not only can he growl quite well, but he contrasts this with a high pitched scream that puts all other deathcore vocalists to shame (some death metal vocalists, even).
This album is definitely Veil of Maya's best album and I look forward to see what they have in store for us next time around. This is a milestone in their discography and I think that anyone who is interested in this band should check this album out as opposed to anything else they've released.