MAYAN — Quarterpast

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MAYAN - Quarterpast cover
4.12 | 12 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2011

Filed under Death Metal
By MAYAN

Tracklist

1. Symphony of Aggression (7:48)
2. Mainstay Of Society - In The Eyes Of The Law: Corruption (5:23)
3. Quarterpast (1:35)
4. Course of Life (6:09)
5. The Savage Massacre - In The Eyes Of The Law: Pizzo (5:27)
6. Essenza Di Te (2:02)
7. Bite the Bullet (5:19)
8. Drown the Demon (4:59)
9. Celibate Aphrodite (7:20)
10. War On Terror - In The Eyes Of The Law: Pentagon Papers (4:25)
11. Tithe (0:52)
12. Sinner's Last Retreat - Deed Of Awakening* (7:39)

Total time: 59:08

Line-up/Musicians

- Mark Jansen / grunts, screams
- Frank Schiphorst / guitars
- Isaac Delahaye / guitars
- Jack Driessen / synths, piano, screams
- Ariën van Weesenbeek / drums, grunts, spoken word
- Jeroen Paul Thesseling / bass guitar

with

- Simone Simons / vocals on #1, #2, #7, #8 & #12, choir vocals
- Floor Jansen / vocals on #1, #4, #7, #8 & #12, choir vocals
- Henning Basse / vocals on #1, #4, #5, #7, #9 & #12, choir vocals
- Laura Macrì / vocals on #5, #6 & #9, choir vocals
- Amanda Somerville / spoken word on #1
- Simon Oberender / choir vocals

Also featuring:

- Trinity Boys Choir on #3

About this release

Released May 20th, 2011, on Nuclear Blast.

* bonus track.

Jeroen Paul Thesseling was a full member of MaYaN when the album was recorded, but left before it's release.

Thanks to Time Signature for the addition and adg211288 for the updates

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MAYAN QUARTERPAST reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

666sharon666
Originally posted here: http://bit.ly/lxQTKS

(this is my first review and I only wrote it because I was bored and the fact that I love this album, obviously, so hopefully you can forgive a track by track)

Review begins for real now:

This is the debut album from MaYaN. Tagged as “Symphonic Death Metal Opera”, Mayan is a new band of Dutch musician Mark Jansen (Epica, ex-After Forever). For me this is a case of setting the bar really high with the debut album.

Symphony Of Aggression – one of my favourites. The song sets up the album perfectly, containing all the elements that make the sound really great. Jansen’s growl is a really deep one, and fits the death metal sound even better than his work with Epica. Clean vocals from a host of guests also give the album that opera edge mentioned in their branding. A great start.

Mainstay of Society (In the Eyes of the Law: Corruption) – Not as good as Symphony, but still quite powerful. Not really much to say about it other than that.

Quarterpast – This is an interlude, featuring a boys choir. Nothing really to write home about. The metal fan in me sometimes wants to skip it.

Course Of Life – Lots of clean vocals from guest Henning Basse here. It’s less intense on the death metal side of things than the first two tracks were, but I still enjoy it a lot.

The Savage Massacre (In the Eyes of the Law: Pizzo) – Similar sort of feel to the previous track, but guest opera singer Laura Macrì first shows up here. A stunning singer, her contributions to this album are too few by far.

Essenza Di Te – Another interlude and the second Laura Macrì appearance. Seems a showcase of her vocals actually above anything else. I feel less inclined to skip this though.

Bite The Bullet – Not a favourite of mine. The weakest of the non-interlude tracks, but still good.

Drown The Demon – MaYaN really brings the intense death metal back in force here. This is another highlight of the disc for me. Reminds me of After Forever some with great use of Floor Jansen’s powerful voice.

Celibate Aphrodite – another highlight and the third and final use of Laura Macrì’s vocals, and the best use. Her operatic voice broken up with heavy sections of riffing works extremely well. My favourite track overall.

War on Terror (In the Eyes of the Law: Pentagon Papers) – My friend thinks the intro to this sounds like something out of Harry Potter. I basically agree, but the intro serves the track well, although as part of the whole disc it’s not a favourite of mine.

Tithe – An Outro. The only completely pointless track on the disc. Uses pretty much the same melody of the intro to War on Terror. Could really have been a part of said track.

Sinner's Last Retreat (Deed of Awakening) – listed as a bonus track, although I have yet to see a version of the album that doesn’t have it. Lacking this track would be a shame though, because it’s actually one of the best, and there’d be a big hole in the album without it.

CLOSING COMENTS/CONCLUSION: It has a few faults to be fair, but Quarterpast is a highly addictive album. The only other thing to really say is that its a grower. I give it a higher grade now than I would of after one or two listens. But now 5 stars without hesitation. One of the year's best albums. Can't wait for a follow-up.
adg211288
Quarterpast is the debut album from Dutch metal band MaYaN. The band is a new project from Epica’s guitarist/growler Mark Jansen. The style of the album is branded right on the album’s artwork as ‘Symphonic Death Metal Opera’. That’s pretty accurate besides the fact that there should be a ‘progressive’ in there as well, with Jansen combining his harsh growls with his trademark symphonic elements from Epica (the lineup also features other Epica members Ariën van Weesenbeek (drums, vocals) and Isaac Delahaye (guitar)) and technical and progressive guitar work, additionally including a host of guest clean vocalists.

Rather unsurprisingly those clean vocals include Epica singer Simone Simons, former After Forever (Mark Jansen’s former band for those unaware) singer Floor Jansen and Henning Basse (singer in Simone’s partner Oliver Palotai’s band Sons of Seasons). The only surprise inclusion is one Laura Macrì, who is, according to the MaYaN biography, one of Italy’s biggest opera talents. So that’s established that there are a lot of vocalists on Quarterpast, but I haven’t even mentioned them all yet as aside from Mark Jansen himself there are also harsh vocals from drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek and keyboardist Jack Driessen (also ex-After Forever). To be honest although I can distinguish Jansen’s growls on the album since I’m used to his deep grunting from Epica, I can’t tell the other two growlers apart, although one of them has a more high-pitched scream that doesn’t sound far off the sort of vocals Dimmu Borgir’s Shagrath does.

On paper Quarterpast sounds like a very interesting package. And it is, but with my early listens to it I just couldn't escape the feeling that it was something of a disappointment. Now don't get me wrong, it would be very unfair to say that Quarterpast isn’t a good album, because it certainly is, in fact it’s an exceptionally good album of the masterpiece standard, something which is plain after many listens to allow it to properly sink in, but my early problems with this one was that I was expecting something different from MaYaN on their debut as they are essentially a super-group of seasoned musicians from several different bands and to be completely honest here this album doesn’t sound that far off from something Epica would have done and that’s the problem that I had early on (note the past tense, any disappointments that I did have wore off), it seems to lack any notable influence from the other members, which aside from the Epica members include Frank Schiphorst of the progressive metal band Symmetry on guitar, and bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling (Obscura, Pestilence) to complete the line-up (though the latter has now been replaced with Rob van der Loo prior to the release but not the recording of Quarterpast). A particular disappointment is Thesseling's involvement in something that lacks any really spectacular bass work.

I expect to most death metal fans Epica comes across as just another symphonic metal band with a female singer, but anyone who has actually delved into Epica (especially their most recent two albums) will know that the Epica sound is actually a combination of symphonic and progressive metal for the most part, but they heavy it up a lot in comparison to say Nightwish or Within Temptation, to the point that much of their music has death metal leanings as well, and anyone who knows that will quickly realise when coming to MaYaN that things aren’t that different. Jansen’s growls naturally just take on a larger role than in Epica and there’s more than one clean singer, including some clean male vocals from Henning Basse, but in short Quarterpast is like the extreme side of Epica come to fruition, retaining many recognisable elements from Mark Jansen’s other band.

To further elaborate on the problem I found with Quarterpast what I’d really have liked to have heard was something that was more of a departure from what Jansen has already been doing Epica, and ultimately this really isn’t. Regardless of that quibble from me, Quarterpast is an extremely enjoyable affair that as a metal album comes closer to technical/progressive death metal with symphonic metal influences rather than full on symphonic death metal like, for example, the music of Septicflesh or Hollenthon. The symphonic element here creates not so much an atmosphere (though the short title track interlude sounds very eerie) or a grandiose and epic sound but used to add to the progressive side of the band. In this, things work really well for MaYaN. To be honest these subtle differences are the only thing, vocal delivery aside, that set Jansen’s two bands apart. There are other similarities in the writing, with a trio of songs on the album appearing to belong to a suite (In the Eyes of the Law), which is similar to Epica’s A New Age Dawns. I guess that sort of thing is typical Jansen though; he’s done stuff like this since After Forever.

One of the major troubles is that I find that for something branded as death metal, there is too much emphasis on the clean vocals. To be fair when the clean vocals fit, they fit really well (example: Drown the Demon), but when they don’t...well you get the picture (example: Bite The Bullet). Fortunately that isn’t often, but they do cause one track, Essenza Di Te, to be something of a pointless interlude, which seems to exist for no other reason than to showcase the operatic talents of Laura Macrì, stunning as they are. It’s hardly unbearable, but it does seem somewhat out of place within the bigger picture. Perhaps ironically I find myself wishing for more time for Macrì's vocals on the album, as she actually only appears in three songs, including this interlude. Her parts in Celibate Aphrodite are stunning. If MaYaN is going to stick with using so much clean vocal in a death metal album, then this is the way to do it, and hopefully when they do a follow-up to Quarterpast they'll invite Laura Macrì back and give her much more time to shine. As for the other singers on the album, they all do an excellent job, although I can't shake off the feeling that Henning Basse is used way too much, but that may just be a reactionary thing to the lack of Laura Macrì vocals.

But really other than those vocal quibbles I can’t find anything to really complain about, and I must stress the fact that what quibbles I had early on have worn off in a really big way to the point that I'd actually consider Quarterpast to be one of the year's strongest releases. The members of MaYaN are all clearly talented and competent musicians and the songs are structured pretty well and once I was into it the album makes for quite addictive listening. For all my early disappointment that Jansen hasn’t given Quarterpast much of its own edge, that isn’t necessarily a reason to ultimately dislike the album and I must admit that once I got into the album and knew what to expect, it’s very solid material with some really amazing tracks such as Symphony of Aggression (which certainly lives up to its name), Mainstray of Society, Drown the Demon and Celibate Aphrodite.

So to draw some conclusions here not unexpectedly with an album such as this I feel that it’s going to find more of a market in those already listening to Epica and similar bands than anywhere else (guess I didn’t really need to repeat that). However to have this branded as a death metal album leaves me with some mixed feelings. It’s certainly much more death metal than Epica due to more focus on growls, but I’m concerned by that aforementioned focus on the clean vocals and how well the actual death metal crowd will receive Quarterpast, since this is in no way leaning towards melodeath where clean vocals are more common. The progressive metal crowd however, not to mention those with wide tastes, should find Quarterpast a rewarding listen. Overall I find this album to be rooted more within the progressive metal genre than death metal despite its strong death metal moments. And for all the negative air this review took on, I find Quarterpast to be a very positive experience. It’s just half the time I think I’m listening to Epica. But then, who said that was a bad thing? On that note the most recent Epica full-length Design Your Universe just about gets one up on Quarterpast for being the superior album.

One final note is one I have mentioned a few times, but must do so again because it's very important; I had many disappointments with this album when I first heard it. It has required more than a couple of listens to truly recognise this one for what it is, which is an absolute gem of an album. What points I made about there not being much to separate this from Epica stand, but when the results sound this good, what does that really matter? I know it's strange that in one way the album remains a disappointment, yet I still find it worth such a high score, but maybe that will tell you how powerful this thing is. It's certainly a unique take on 'death metal' though, and I highly recommend giving it a try regardless of your feelings towards Epica or the like.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 9.6/10)

Members reviews

cennsor
[review originally published on http://thecennsor.wordpress.com/]

I’m listening to MaYan‘s Quarterpast for the second time right now, desperately trying to find some reasons why I shouldn’t just follow the instinctive need I felt when I first heard it, to blurt out my utter disappointment and humbly try and bash it as harshly as possible. And no, none found so far.

I apparently can’t help expecting more from the main guy behind my own 2009 album of the year, Epica‘s Design Your Universe. Guitarist Mark Jansen is a vulcanic music prodigy and composer whose creativity can be easily tamed. And that’s just wonderful. In my mind, that equates him to those few musicians that general underground music community’s consensus usually regards as musical geniusses: Arjen Lucassen, Tuomas Holopainen, Dan Swanö, Devin Townsend.

So it’s all the more disappointing to hear what he came up with on his solo/supergroup (yes, it’s both) project MaYan. Mark‘s penchant for death metal is well known, and it was atleast fair to assume his solo writing would go in that direction, especially after Epica replaced two of their former members with death/extreme metal musicians (drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek and guitarist Isaac Delahaye, who not by chance were recruited by Mark for MaYan). Nor should it surprise anyone that MaYan also attempt to reconcile said death metal spurts with Epica‘s symphonic heart.

What does surprise, and in a negative way, is what such an attempt led to. Quarterpast is, at best, an easier-listening version of Sons of Seasons‘ recently released Magnisphyricon: a clot of black-scented furious drumming and nonsensical “lyrical” snipets coming out of nowhere. It may be no coincidence the two projects, comprising members of bands related to one another by means of an on-and-off the stage friendship, actually ended up with similar efforts. I would want to call them “dead ends”, but that’s just wishful thinking: who knows they’ve actually set some stepping stone for future bands to come? Or even, God forbid, for what they’re going to do from now on?

Magnisphyricon is Sons of Seasons‘ sophomore release, and as I tried to phrase here, it takes a none too good debut even further down. MaYan‘s Quarterpast is just a beginning, and it may as well have no lasting consequence on the band’s (possible) future work. Nor, and that’s an old Epica fan’s hope, on the “main” band.

The album’s structure pretty much sums up what I wrote about MaYan‘s style: a frenzying drums-driven death metal song is followed by an ethereal wanna-be lyrical piece, again followed by crazy hyperfast drumming and guitar walls coming out of, and leading to, nothing. One might think a well pondered mixture of these two sides on the same song could give better results, but songs like Bite the Bullet, though not extremely weak, completely shatter such hopes. The final Sinner’s Last Retreat actually comes close to being a sufficient song, but that’s about all the good Quarterpast can offer.

The annoying fillers would perhaps deserve a mention, also being an effective sum of the album’s inconsistency; but suffice it here to say there’s three of them, all of course equally useless.

That said, the album still remains appealing (sad as this may be) to: casual fans of “alternative” kinds of death metal, uncritical supporters of side projects, Epica (or Dutch symphonic metal in general) fangirls and fanboys, and lovers of “new and fresh” sounds at all costs. No doubt this kind of vaguely symphonic, poorly syncretic death metal is something new on “the scene”, and it won’t fail at attracting followers and enthusiasts. Question is: is this a direction worth exploring? Haven’t we been disappointed enough already? Time, and selling figures, will tell.

THUS SPAKE THE CENNSOR: The Cennsor‘s own view (’cause I can’t really provide much more than that) is that it takes more than a couple randomly inserted Italian-sung opera lines and rhythmic brutality all clogged up together to make an album worth listening (and writing, for that matter). Quarterpast was obviously born of Mark Jansen‘s own creativity, in a way the ideas that ultimately led to it probably just needed to see the light. Otherwise they’d be still lingering among his musical thoughts, and that could’ve led to much worse results for, and under the name of, Epica. If there’s something I’d save about Quarterpast, and this whole MaYan project, is that it will probably prevent Epica from going down the same road. And to me, that’s relieving. 5/10

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