A flurry of singles and a full scrapping of album material has elongated the wait for [m]other. But if something’s not up to scratch for a crafty band like Veil Of Maya, the eventual product is bound to be an alien experience, at least to mortal ears. Can any more magic be added to that sweet sauce? Yep. The Chicago four-piece have added a batch of spice to a demented cauldron that they’ve had simmering since 2004.
It’s remarkable to think this is their seventh offering really. Not many bands have chartered the waters of the metalcore genre since its heyday, but Marc Okubo and co are built differently. They’ve crafted a gradual and natural shift from jagged, glitchy deathcore to technical metal with soaring vocals and a heartier grasp of songwriting sitting among chaos. I honestly don’t think I’ve heard a more outrageous chorus riff than 2017’s Pool Spray; somehow showcasing a singalong over spidery fingers that cover every single patch of the fretboard in a flash.
So how to re-submerge listeners into the Veil Of Maya energy? With danger, of course, and Tokyo Chainsaw: a guard dog let loose on unsuspecting trespassers. It’s a real gnasher, throwing us immediately into the stop-start mania of crushing textbook chugs. As precise as a sheet of glass, each little ditty thrown in by the guitarist is another splintered ice-cool fragment of the greater whole which is intentionally cinematic, an experience Okubo reckons we’ll be able to keep up with; “maybe you’ll hone in on the little details as you go further” sums up the initial bamboozlement which prevails.
Artificial Dose’s electronica bubbles under Lukas Magyar’s vocal range, made most fantastical and poppy on Red Fur to throw you off the scent of the instrumental’s wizardry. His vastly improved cleans complement rather than confound his predominantly growled affront, which goes from screamed mountain peaks to underwater volcano depths. The latter you’ll find in abundance on pre-released single Godhead, a meticulous prog-death delight. The satisfying weedle-weedle-wee style (more on that later) pops up in evolving riff sections all over the track with shifting paces conducted by drummer Sam Applebaum. His box of tricks—no matter if it’s a rhythmic underbelly or speed run—has been a source of constant wonder in Veil of Maya’s discography. He doesn’t hold back here, nor in Mother Pt. 4, riding like a sidecar to the berserk guitars that sound as if they’ll go off-piste at any second. They remarkably don’t across a five-minute-plus runtime.
There are ample fun-loving sides to Okubo and Danny Hauser’s borderless fretwork, whether references to their own bracketed tracknames of old ([re]connect) or an unspecified Synthwave Vegan. Hell, who could ever forget when Okubo hilariously fashioned a spoken critical mockery of their shift to djent breakdowns (the weedle-weedle-wee) by making it into its own djent breakdown on 2012’s Punisher? Even the synthwork here could sound like a sci-fi score or Owl City deep cut (Disco Kill Party).
Veil Of Maya haven’t reinvented their approach—throttling us into wonderment with some tasty, advanced playing—but instead they’re filling a maestro-shaped hole in modern metalcore. It could only be done by one of the scene’s staple acts who haven’t just kept pace with the moving heavy-music world, but dictated the standard for the next cohort of madcap internet-based djent academics. Let’s see what everyone else has got.
For fans of: Periphery, Silent Planet, Born of Osiris
‘[m]other’ by Veil Of Maya is released on 12th May on Sumerian Records.
Words by Elliot Burr