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MaYaN is a progressive/symphonic death metal project founded by Epica guitarist and vocalist, Mark Jansen, former After Forever keyboardist Jack Driessen and former Symmetry guitarist Frank Schiphorst. The initial line-up was completed by second guitarist Sander Gommans (ex-After Forever, HDK), who was replaced early on by Isaac Delahaye (Epica, ex-God Dethroned), drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek (Epica) and bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling (ex-Obscura, ex-Pestilence).

The group recorded their debut album Quarterpast, branding it as Symphonic Death Metal Opera and released it in 2011. By the time of release Jeroen Paul Thesseling had been replaced by Rob van der Loo (Epica, ex-Delain) as the former was unable to commit to planned touring.

Quarterpast featured several guest vocalists, two of which, Henning Basse (ex-Metalium, ex-Sons of Seasons) and Laura Macrì (div4s), were added to the full-line-up by the time the second album Antagonise (2014) was recorded and released. Isaac Delahaye had departed the
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MAYAN Quarterpast album cover 4.14 | 15 ratings
Death Metal 2011
MAYAN Antagonise album cover 4.84 | 9 ratings
Death Metal 2014
MAYAN Dhyana album cover 4.54 | 9 ratings
Death Metal 2018

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MAYAN Reviews

MAYAN Dhyana

Album · 2018 · Death Metal
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Kev Rowland
It has taken four years for MaYaN to come back with their third album, and given I was such a major fan of ‘Antagonise’ I was intrigued to see what they were going to come up with. That album took symphinc death metal to a new level, but I don’t think anyone expected them to record the next album with a full orchestra (The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra) and five singers! Jack Driessen and Mark Jansen are still at the helm of the multi-headed beast they have created, and their vision really knows no bounds. This is over the top, epic, cinematic, majestic, and quite incredible.

The orchestra has taken on many of the roles originally provided by keyboards, which gives the music more power and depth, with real brass and strings striving to be heard, really driving the symphonic element. Then this is combined with metal which refuses to take prisoners, moving between commercial elements and death with ease. Add into the mix some incredible female vocals combining with both rock vocals and death vocals, and it creates something very special indeed. It isn’t possible to fathom where the music is going to lead as they switch it up so much, with a full on death attack suddenly being replaced by a very high female soprano with just piano for accompaniment. This is the likes of Dimmu Borgir being taken to a whole new level, and then just when it feels that it couldn’t become more bombastic we are treated to the title cut with stunning female vocals and picked acoustic guitar with a cello coming in for support. It builds and builds, and shows both restraint and total understanding for contrast and dynamics, light and shade.

In some ways this band was originally almost an offshoot of Epica and After Forever, but the child has superseded the parents, as yet again MaYaN have released an album of incredible complexity and power which is simply stunning.

MAYAN Antagonise

Album · 2014 · Death Metal
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Kev Rowland
There are times that when a band is described as being part of a sub-genre that in itself is part of another sub-genre that one just wants to not bother listening to the album, as how on earth can that be right? Well, back with their second album Mayan prove again just how wrong that idea can be, as what we have here is a Symphonic Death Metal band who are exactly that. Originally this started as a project conceived by Mark Jansen (Epica) and his old friend, Jack Driessen (ex-After Forever), and they put together a band with some guest singers (including current Nightwish vocalist Floor Jansen). Well, Floor is back again for this album, but there has been a firming of the ranks and there are now seven full-time members, three of whom are singers.

Songs such as “Insano” allow soprano Laura Macri to show her paces, but for the most part her role is to provide support to the main leads of Mark Jansen (grunts and screams) and Henning Basse. Musically there is a great deal going on, and the guys aren’t afraid to bring out the acoustic when the time is right, but for the most part this is brutal metal with keyboards being orchestrated to bring an over the top appeal to the material. It is polished, and extremely complex, but there are times such as with “Human Sacrifice” where the symphonic passages are used to highlight just how heavy and strong these guys can be when they want to.

There have been a few albums in this style recently, and when bands get it right I am stunned at just how bombastic and intense this can be. To say that Mayan have it right is something of an understatement as this is everything one could wish for with an album, with great songs, wonderful musical performances and vocals, while the production is also top rate. This is definitely worth discovering.

MAYAN Antagonise

Album · 2014 · Death Metal
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Antagonise (2014) is the second full-length album by Dutch progressive symphonic death metal act MaYaN. Since the release of Quarterpast (2011) the band has extended their line-up, now including three lead vocalists centred around different voice types; Mark Jansen (growls), Henning Basse (clean) and Laura Macrì (soprano). While all three featured on the debut, only Jansen, the band's founder, was a full member at the time. The album additionally features guest vocals from Floor Jansen (ReVamp, Nightwish) and Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion), so it's almost the same vocalists featured on Quarterpast except instead of Bovio the debut album had Simone Simons (Epica). Guitarist Isaac Delahaye is at this point no longer fully affiliated with the group although he has a guest contribution, with the bulk of guitars on Antagonise played by Frank Schiphorst. Delahaye was replaced after recording by Merel Bechtold (Purest of Pain). Antagonise additionally marks the recording debut of bassist Rob van der Loo, who had joined before the release of Quarterpast but did not play on it.

Quarterpast came with a genre branding as a subtitle of sorts: "Symphonic Death Metal Opera". Although there should always have been a "progressive" in there to accurately describe MaYaN's music, it was more or less accurate. The music was symphonic death metal, and because of the presence of Laura Macrì it did also have a small amount of genuine opera. Had Macrì been given more singing time, the branding, progressive not being in it aside, would have been 100% accurate to describe what MaYaN sounded like. Quarterpast was an absolutely killer debut album all the same; a more extreme side of Mark Jansen's (and several other members of MaYaN) other band Epica, who as I'm sure anyone who knows their symphonic metal will tell you, are on the heavier side of the genre to begin with.

With Laura Macrì and her soprano voice promoted to full-time member status within the band it is perhaps the logical conclusion that Antagonise would further seize on the "opera" part of Quarterpast's branding despite not carrying that or any sort of genre branding at all this time around, and be the album that Quarterpast described on the tin.

Well if you did come to that conclusion, as I did, then you'd be wrong. I think that Laura Macrì gets a bit more singing time on Antagonise compared to Quarterpast, however now that she's considered a full member I did expect to hear more of her this time. Not more than Mark Jansen of course, this is still meant to be a death metal album despite the numerous other trappings that surround that core sound, which include some power metal in a few tracks, but definitely more than Henning Basse, who by contrast sounds firmly established as the lead clean singer. He sounds excellent; definitely the best performance I've heard from him, but I can't help but feel that for a band who so brazenly put symphonic death metal opera on their previous cover art that if that's what they really want to be, then we need to start hearing less Basse and more Macrì with Jansen's growls still taking the central role.

Of course, I don't claim to know the minds of the musicians in MaYaN, and they didn't repeat that branding on the cover of Antagonise, so for all I know symphonic death metal opera isn't something they're even interested in achieving at this point. But they have shown on both albums that they can achieve a sound that is very easily described as such, such as Antagonise's Human Sacrifice. The female vocals in this song are actually shared with Marcela Bovio, but she provides a similar effect to Laura. The first female voice is Marcela, the second is Laura. It's a very cool sound, with the female vocals only coming in after a more traditionally death metal orientated couple of minutes and there's still room made later on for a contribution from Henning. It's definitely disappointing that MaYaN appear to have taken all the correct steps to further explore it, and then don't. It is equally disappointing that they add a talented singer like Laura Macrì to their line-up and then don't give her the opportunity to shine.

This isn't to say that the quality of Antagonise is adversely affected in any way by sticking with safe and familiar ground, the music itself is still the same high quality work that I have come to expect from a Mark Jansen album, be it with MaYaN or Epica, and if I'm honest it even has one up on Quarterpast if we're discussing the actual composition. There's a slightly more intense edge to some of the riffs this time that further lend weight to MaYaN's status as a death metal act, but there's still a lot of polish to their sound, particularly when it's Henning singing and naturally when he takes over from Mark Jansen the album doesn't sound anything like death metal, but overall Mark is still the lead voice so although the album may entirely leave the genre at intervals, it always comes back around to a death metal sound. The symphonic elements sound great and the progressive flairs within the instrumental work never fail to offer up some interesting touches to the riffs. A couple of tracks haven't sunk in so well as most of the album though, particularly Enemies of Freedom which features voice-overs questioning whether guns are good or bad depending on the situation they're used in, which I feel distracts from and thus detracts from the excellent music.

There is a lot more top quality music here than not though and songs like Enemies of Freedom are only slightly lesser than their betters. I've already mentioned Human Sacrifice as a track where MaYaN really does manage a symphonic death metal opera sound so that is an obvious highlight of the release. You also have Burn Your Witches, which is perhaps best described as symphonic power-death the way the riffs flit back and forth in style depending on whether it's Mark or Henning's turn to sing. It also has Floor Jansen show up towards the end. The longest track, Faceless Spies, which was the first that MaYaN released to the public, is also an instant highlight for its epic quality, which also includes a lengthy violin solo by Greek musician Dimitris Katsoulis.

While MaYaN certainly have potential for a sound they've still only scratched the surface of, what they do within the still relatively small symphonic death metal genre is a lot more adventurous than just about every other band I've heard playing the style, although it's that adventurous nature that could ironically see them alienated as a death metal act; there are a lot of clean vocals by Henning Basse and the music itself can diverge into other metal styles for an extended period of time. To my ears this is still a death metal album however, because you shouldn't really expect an album that is also progressive to bother with the rulebook. Although they may not have done much different between albums, this is what makes Antagonise a case where more of the same is perfectly acceptable.

I've had to give Antagonise many spins to settle on a final opinion, more than I need for most albums. Disappointment over an apparent lack of growth between albums, surrounding Laura Macrì's contributions for the most part, did have me holding back on my initial impressions but at the end of the day quality of songwriting wins through, and one shouldn't let unmet preconceptions get in the way of appreciating what an album actually sounds like. The songs from Quarterpast are all still as excellent as they were in 2011, but on Antagonise MaYaN have honed the sound of that album, even if it's just by a small amount. Yes, there is some untapped potential here that I'd still like to hear explored in the future, but I'm confident that, having allowed time for it to sink in, like Quarterpast before it, Antagonise is a 5 star album from MaYaN.

MAYAN Quarterpast

Album · 2011 · Death Metal
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Originally posted here:

(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.

MAYAN Quarterpast

Album · 2011 · Death Metal
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[review originally published on]

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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