Words cannot describe how godly Veil of Maya is in my book. The Chicago based unit has been grinding it out on the road through countless festivals and tours around the world, gaining an enormous following for their mix of progressive metal and technical brutality. The band hit it home with their last release “Eclipse”, co-produced by Misha Mansoor (Periphery, Bulb) which was charted on the Billboard Top 200. Unfortunately, in September of 2014, their vocalist of the last 7 years, Brandon Butler, decided to part ways with the band over creative differences. When writing their follow up to “Eclipse”, Veil Of Maya found themselves with a lot of new ideas, but no singer. Until they found new vocalist Lukas Magyar, who brought a whole new flavor to the band’s evolving sound displayed on Matriarch. “I’m from this small town in Wisconsin, where there’s not a lot of music and nobody’s really as serious about it as I am,” says Magyar in a press release from The Syndicate. “I had followed Veil for a few years, and was really impressed by them. When I heard they needed a new singer, I got in touch.” Magyar, however, had never toured before. Or even been on a plane. Not a problem.
“We flew him out, auditioned him and hired him on the spot,” reveals guitarist Marc Okubo. “He was great. He could sing, too, which is something we’d wanted to do for a while. It really opened up some possibilities.”
After making his live debut at last year’s Knotfest, Magyar joined his new band mates (Okubo, bassist Dan Hauser, and drummer Sam Applebaum) and producer Taylor Larson (Periphery, Darkest Hour) in the studio to record “Matriarch”. It’s an album that finds Magyar bringing a powerful new addition to Veil Of Maya’s brand of delicious technical sex music: a mix of harsh and clean singing.
This is the best, most well-rounded album that VoM has ever put out. “Matriarch” is written with much more focus on song structure than what I’ve heard on previous albums. Not to say I don’t love the chaotic style of their older releases, but this album is so perfectly balanced. It gave me everything I crave when listening to metal. Devastatingly heavy and technical sections mixed in with very melodic and atmospheric parts that elevate Veil of Maya to a whole new level. Not to mention Magyar fucking kills it on the album. I see some on the internet quickly making a comparison to Periphery, especially considering this is the first release by the band that has clean vocals. The only real comparison that could be made between Magyar and Spencer Sotelo is that they are both incredibly versatile. The clean vocals of the two don’t even sound alike. Magyar’s cleans sound more like Jonny Craig (Slaves, ex-Dance Gavin Dance) if anything.
The album opens up with “NYU” which is a short but heavy barrage of syncopated groovy chugging while Magyar makes his presence known with some blistering screams. This track was the signifier that the VoM that I love is back better than ever. Then the album goes into “Leeloo” (a tribute to “The Fifth Element”?) which is more atmospheric, but nonetheless still very heavy. It almost reminds me of the song “Martyrs” off of the 2010 release “[id]”. The next song “Ellie” is one of the more melodic songs on the album, but also it contains some of that pinpoint guitar picking goodness. Although I stand by what I said earlier about Magyar not sounding like Spencer Sotelo, this song in particular has some very “Periphery-like” moments in the instrumentation.
The track “Lucy” sounds very reminiscent of “The Common Man’s Collapse” until around the 1:36 mark where the song becomes more ambient and electronic sounding. Yet afterwards it immediately just throws you right back into the depths of destruction with an end breakdown that will be sure to get some fists flying in a live setting. Up next we have “Mikasa” which the band released as the second single leading up to this album. This is by far the most accessible song that VoM has released, yet it doesn’t compromise on the heavy sections. That breakdown at the 2:12 mark is fucking disgusting. Marc Okubo said in that same press release from before that “There was controversy when we released the single, ‘Mikasa’. But for every 10 kids who complained online, we gained hundreds of new fans. I think ‘Mikasa’ is the most popular song we’ve ever put out.”
The song “Aeris” has one of the better vocal performances from Magyar on the album. The instrumentation is definitely more of a progressive and melodic sound. The gang vocals on this song almost sound like something from “30 Seconds to Mars”. The next track “Three-fifty” starts off at a kind of pop punky pace, then has this cool djenty section, but it’s on a higher note than what is usually done for that kind of chugging. Like a better version of “Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!”. “Phoenix”, the band’s first single, is some of the good ol groovy brutality that we’ve come to expect from the band. The song then goes into this section in the middle that ominously builds up to the end of the song, which has less grooves, but more of a hardcore style than the beginning. The title track “Matriarch” is a short little intro to the next song “Teleute”, which sounds like something straight out of Danny Elfman’s fucked up, brilliant mind. “Teleute”, which is the most recent single given to us by the band, is one of the heaviest songs on the album. It starts out like any typical VoM song, but then throws you for a loop and goes into the craziest breakdown right around the :30 second mark. Then the song just goes into some straight up death metal before coming back to the same breakdown with some eerie singing in the back.
Up next was “Daenerys”, which is easily the slowest song on the record. You can definitely hear the influences of bands like “Northlane”, “Dance Gavin Dance” on this track. I can imagine this song has the most likely chance to get some plays on mainstream radio. The last song “Lisbeth” is just some straight djenty goodness mixed in with some harmonized guitar with eerie, off-time breakdowns. This song has some of my favorite drum work I’ve heard from Sam Applebaum on this album
I know this album will cause a divide among VoM fans, but in the process they are going to gain much more recognition for it in the long run. This album was an incredibly enjoyable listen. I was worried at first when they lost Brandon Butler, but after seeing the direction that the band is heading in with this album, I’m confident that the band is going to reach new heights. A lot of times when a band adds clean vocals to their sound it feels like a sellout move, but not in this case. Magyar’s clean vocals add so much depth to the bands sound, it’s unbelieveable. The band will keep the momentum going throughout the year, with plans for additional summer dates to be announced soon (COUGH COUGH SUMMER SLAUGHTER COUGH). Dates for Veil Of Maya’s upcoming headlining run with Revocation, Oceano, and Entheos CAN BE FOUND HERE.