Review Summary: A tragically ignored band releases their second and final solid record.
The Mayan Factor’s debut “In Lake’ Ch” was an album like none other. This 2003 release would have been easy to miss, due to the fact that the band is virtually unknown. In fact, The Mayan Factor do not even have their own wikipedia page. In what little information can be found about the band, The Mayan Factor are listed as an alternative, folk, indie, and progressive rock band. In actuality, the band’s sound is not just one of those genres, but rather a fusion of all of them. The elements of folk and progressive are most prevalent in debut “In Lake’ Ch,” in which has a very “earthy” ambience. Seldom using electric guitars, the band had crafted a sound that has yet to be replicated to this day. “In Lake’ Ch’s” atmospheric feel and occasional rapping made for an intriguing and rather original experience; not to mention there was some extreme quality in the music.
Quite possibly due to the lack of commercial success of “In Lake’ Ch,” or the lack of recognition that the album received even underground, The Mayan Factor decided to alter their distinct sound. With their 2004 release, “44,” The Mayan Factor opted for a much more accessible and mainstream sound, while sacrificing a great deal of the originality displayed in their debut. “In Lake’ Ch” had your typical progressive rock format; covering up to 55 minutes of music in just eight tracks. On the contrary, “44” is constructed in much more of a commercially-friendly format, with only two tracks exceeding six minutes. Unfortunately, this would prove to be one of the factors weighing the record down, for “In Lake’ Ch’s” progressive nature is virtually non-existent here.
Unlike in The Mayan Factor’s debut, electric guitars play quite a large role on “44,” not necessarily providing the rhythm, but rather some excellent and fitting leads to complement the songs’ acoustic nature. While “In Lake’ Ch” was concerned with progressive song structuring and a tribal ambience, “44” includes a wider range of instrumentation. The electric leads are a focal point of the music, along with Ray-Ray’s passionate vocals, and the occasional keyboards and strings. Not unlike the debut, “44” presents the opportunity for Ray-Ray to stand out more than anything in the sound of The Mayan Factor; his clean, yet versatile tone seemingly perfect for the music. The acoustic guitars and open sound are what intensify the music, but it is truly Ray-Ray that provides the amount of tension to increase this intensity. In “44” the nu-metal style rapping was dropped from Ray-Ray’s arsenal, much to the pleasure of the few fans of the band.
Amidst the multitude of ballads that seem to dominate the time span of the album, is the haunting and clinically depressed Jack Nicholson
. In an album in which, the majority of the ballads on the record tend to blend into each other and lack in originality, Jack Nicholson
reigns supreme. Possibly named for a villain that actor Jack Nicholson has played (the joker?), its lyrics are blatant and terrifying. “A kiss of a snake in the woods by the lake, it haunts me. Calm down, calm down, calm down, grab the knife. Calm down, calm down, calm down, slit her throat.” Following track Recon
falls into the category of the album’s low-key tracks as well, and utilizes the mysterious vibe and wailing lead guitar, well enough to separate itself from its counterparts. What is introduced in “44” that was not entirely conveyed in “In Lake’ Ch” is the raw energy and edge that can be associated with Terrorist
. One of the better songs that the band has written, Terrorist
displays The Mayan Factor at their most authoritative moment.
As the guitar soars and Ray-Ray’s “Tick, tick, booms,” grow to an intensified level, the campfire metaphor can justifiably be tied back into Terrorist
, just as it was Warflower
. “44” did mark the end of The Mayan Factor’s innovation to an extent, but more significantly contained the tension that has placed the band head and shoulders above its peers. Currently, The Mayan Factor are no longer an item in the music world, and the reasons for this are unknown. An inability to reach a large or even moderately sized fan base may have been the Achilles heel for The Mayan Factor, who have at least left a legacy with those that have heard them. Both “In Lake’ Ch” and “44” showed flashes of brilliance, and barring a few major flaws, had the potential to be absolutely fantastic records.
To Kill A Priest