Review Summary: Rebuilding with a solid foundation.
Veil of Maya was a deathcore band that became popular for their off-kilter riffs and rhythmically intricate breakdowns. There was no subtlety to it all, and both the very minimal songwriting and monotone vocals made their first material a chore to go through. There were still fun and creative moments, both they were surrounded by little of interest. As time passed, the band slowly started to make (or at least try) more coherent and melodic material, yet they lost a bit of their identity in the process, with a vocalist keeping already stale music from becoming a bit more dynamic. Now with the release of Matriarch and departure of said vocalist, the band finds a new life. This isn’t exactly the same band that made The Common Man’s Collapse, and perhaps that’s a good thing.
Let’s get to the biggest change first. New vocalist Lukas Magyar really is a huge improvement, both in execution and in dynamism. His screaming is nothing you haven’t heard before, but it’s passable at worst. The energy is there, the control is there, and the higher moments are a real threat. Where he really shines, though, is in his singing. Think of a more soulful and less yelly Spencer Sotelo. Now that may be a negative to some, especially older fans, since the difference really is that big. That is a risk the band had to take, and thankfully they did.
It also changes the rest of the music quite a bit. Half of the tracks use a more melodic progression and a more thought-out structure due to the inclusion of clean vocals (‘’Mikasa’’, ‘’Ellie’’). It seems like it set free ideas that simply couldn’t be before. Examples like ‘’Aeris’’ and ‘’Three-Fifty’’ almost sound like punk at times and really showcase some of the band’s new ideas. That’s not to say this isn’t Veil of Maya, because the other half brings back more of what old fans want. ‘’Teleute’’ and ‘’Lucy’’ are highlights because of their sense of urgency and technical prowess, with the clean vocals being used sparingly.
With that comes a problem though. Breakdowns are still used a huge amount, and a lot of them are uninspired. Some heavier riffs also feel recycled from the band’s early material. It gives the impression that the band isn’t completely at ease to let go of their old identity just yet. The songs are also really short, with none surpassing the 4-minute mark. It keeps them from developing ideas fully instead of attacking the listener with a frantic pace. I guess it’s a side of them they want to keep, but it doesn’t exactly gel with the new sound. The well-mixed production also feels lifeless, with triggered drums and heavily-quantized guitars ruining some of the ballsier moments.
Overall though, Matriarch could have been a disaster and was an improvement instead. This isn’t exactly the same band that made The Common Man’s Collapse, and perhaps that’s a good thing.
Highlights: Mikasa, Lucy and Teleute.