If there’s one genre that’s in desperate need of an injection of originality, it’s the deathcore scene. The well is seemingly drying up and the genre is stuck in a stagnant pit. Everything that could be done within the realms of the style has been regurgitated time and time again. The genre is perpetually being flogged to death by numerous bands surfacing that merely abide by the prototype previously established. As you sift through the cookie-cutter bands and saturated breakdowns, you’ll find some hidden treasures. Chicago bred, Veil of Maya is one of those gems that prove there is still hope for the seemingly diminishing trend. Their sophomore release, The Common Man’s Collapse, carried distinctive features that set them apart from their contemporaries and offered listeners with a breath of fresh air. After two years in the waiting, Veil of Maya return with their third studio album [Id], on Sumerian Records.
For the fans that loved their older work, you will continue to be pleased because [Id] is essentially an extension of The Common Man’s Collapse. While Veil of Maya maintain on their already treaded path, they still incorporate their trademark chaotic sensibilities that keep your attention. Guitarist Marc Okubo slays with his consistently intense and hyperbolic speed riffing. Second track, “Unbreakable” writhes with these riffs and comes delivering an inspirational message. While the majority of heavy bands often focus their lyrics on gore, atheism, or hitting on bluntly misogynistic topics, Veil of Maya have always been one to take a more uplifting approach on remaining strong through despair. Their meaningful words recapitulate on “Unbreakable” when spoken words recite, “We all hold the power to trust and have faith in ourselves but just like a coward we flee from our hearts. Now is the time to believe in yourself. Have no fear how others think of you or will judge you because your greatness will silence them all.”
Third track, “Dark Passenger,” marks the first downfall on [Id]. The beginning starts like the rest but towards the middle of the song everything falls apart for half of a minute. The intense riffing seizes and you’re left with subtle guitar picking, subdued drum beats and distant deep growls. While their intentions were good, the melodic bars were oddly placed and left more questions than praise. Thankfully, everything picks back up and restores any previous lost hope. A deathcore album doesn’t feel complete without routine use of breakdowns. Most acts rely heavily on the trademark and they soon become saturated. Veil of Maya sits on the edge of adequate use but almost hit the overused mark. Interludes, “Martyrs,” and “Circle,” are basically a minute long breakdown with layers of chugs and synth tendencies to break it up.
The second half of [Id] are where the strongest tracks lie and testify their strength in songwriting. “Resistance,” exhibits their further inclination towards synth embellishments, which create an interesting sci-fi atmospheric effect. “Namaste,” is indisputably the highlight track and serves as a comprehensive amalgam of their talents. From the opening bars to the last descending note, this track is a tumultuous wrecking machine. Vocalist, Brandon Butler adds to the intensity by providing a throaty template of impeccable deep growls and higher pitched screams. A current craze to the genre is the addition of Meshuggah-esque posturing and drummer Sammy Applebaum follows this trend. Each track he impressively delivers fleet-footed double bass work alongside a fury of blast beats.
Overall, Veil of Maya exhibit the intricacy and technical side of metal while adding progressive ambitions and melodic embellishments. The guitar and drum work are delivered at hyperbolic speed, leaving even the listener breathless and the vocals are right up to par. Comprehensively, [Id] is a remarkable album that pays a stronger emphasis on proficiency. However, the flaws that occurred disabled it from outshining, the critically acclaimed, The Common Man’s Collapse. This is an album that takes multiple listens to fully appreciate but when you do, it’ll stick.
Review written by: Nerissa Judd