MaYaN – Quarterpast [2011]

Band: MaYaN
Album: Quarterpast
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal/Progressive Metal

Dutch symphonic death metal sextet is the latest project by Epica guitarist Mark Jansen.  Their debut album is “Quarterpast” which features some well known names from the European Metal scene including Simone Simons [Epica], Floor Jansen [ReVamp, ex-After Forever] and Henning Basse [Sons of Seasons]. The subtitle for the album is “Symphonic Death Metal Opera” which promises a brilliant story behind the songs.

The album begins with “Symphony Of Aggression” which already hints at pure death metal styled brutality. The intro riff pulls no punches, bringing a heavy barrage of double bass drum and distorted, skull-crushing guitars. The introduction of Mark’s grunts completes the track. The symphonic sections add a certain calm to the storm that is “Symphony Of Aggression” whilst the whispered section brings a touch of eeriness to the track. The most shocking thing about this track is the use of Simone’s vocals soon into the album, however, it doesn’t take away from the brilliance of the musicianship or composition of the track. “Symphony Of Aggression” is perhaps one of the best opening tracks ever to have been written and recorded.

The second track, “Mainstray Of Society – In The Eyes Of The Law Corruption”, begins where the previous track finished, bringing melodic riffs to the album rather than beasty riffs. Mark’s grunts work well with the symphonic and guitar sections. The highlight of this track would definitely have to be the drums and vocals. The album soon takes a turn into a more gentle track which takes its name from the album title “Quarterpast”. The track is a Gothic-sounding orchestral track, which unfortunately doesn’t last too long.

“Course Of Life” bombards its way on to the album next, starting with a heavy and aggressive yet melodic and beautiful guitar riff mixed with some intelligent drum work. Henning’s vocals are the first ones to be heard on this track and they are as strong as ever, bringing a whole new sound to the album. Mark’s grunts and Simone’s and Floor’s vocals work well as backing vocals on this track, though the track could have been better with some more vocals from Mark. The symphonic sections, like the first two tracks, work well with the guitars and drums, adding a tragic sound to the track. The track finishes with a very tense and dramatic symphonic outro. “The Savage Massacre – In The Eyes Of Law Pizzo” is the fifth track. Its intro is composed of ear-splitting riffs, melancholy symphonic sections and heavy drums. Mark’s grunts seem to have become more aggressive and angry-sounding for this track. The guitars also seem to have become more heavy, whilst some of the symphonic sections sound repetitive of the previous tracks. The soft section half way through, composed of people talking with strong operatic vocals singing over them adds mystique to the track before the heavy onslaught of riffs, drums and grunts returns.

“Essenza Di Te” is one of the more softer tracks on the album,  featuring vocals from up-and-coming opera star Laura Macri. This track is beautiful composed, featuring a lot of classical-styled music mixed with very strong vocals which bring a very touching essence to the album. “Essenza Di Te” leads into the aggressive and melodic intro of “Bite The Bullet”. This track has more of a power metal sound to it, in terms of the music and the vocals of Henning add to the power metal sound. Mark’s grunts can be heard a fair bit on this track as well, which brings that needed death metal element. The guitar solo on this track is the best one on the album. The next track is “Drown The Demon”, which is more of a ballad-styled song. It begins with a dark symphonic intro which brings about a very tense musical atmosphere. The guitars soon follow, while not as heavy as previous tracks, they still pack a punch combined with the drums and bass. The combination of Mark’s grunts and Floor’s vocals are reminiscent of After Forever, however this track is far from been an After Forever track. The guitars work beautifully with the symphonic sections. In fact, the guitar riffs are almost hypnotically catchy. The guitar solo is epic and the voice over just after it brings a whole new level to the track.

“Celibate Aphrodite” brings the aggression back to the album with a thrash-sounding intro riff. The piano sections that follow the intro add a very Gothic touch to the track, which works brilliantly with Mark’s grunts and the guitars. The voice over, followed by the female vocals is an astounding touch to the album, especially as it’s followed by a short but expertly played solo. A longer solo comes after another section of female vocals, adding a very aggressive sound to the track. This track is one of the best ones on the album. The orchestrated intro of “War On Terror – In The Eyes Of The Law Pentagon Papers” comes next, with a very Romanian gypsy sound before the brutal assault of guitars, drums and bass begins. This track seems more fast paced compared to the previous ones and Mark sounds as if he’s struggling to keep up with the music in some sections, which is the only flaw with this track. The symphonic sections would have to be the most impressive thing about this track, followed by the guitar riffs. “Tithe” is next, been composed of a piano medley which sounds a tad like the Harry Potter theme to begin with. This track is the last soft track of the album, bringing it with an eerie sound. The bonus track, “Sinner’s Last Retreat – Deed Of Awakening” comes blasting next, with a heavy intro combined with strong vocals. The orchestration seems to have become heavier, virtually matching the guitars and drums in brutality and aggression.

“Quarterpast” has proven itself to be a most impressive debut album. Mark Jansen has outdone himself with this album. Each track leaves the listener wanting more and with an array of big names from the European metal scene, it’s no wonder that this is a brilliant album. For those who are worried that this is going to be an “Epica-sounding album”, you need not worry. This album has more bite and aggression, a true jewel in today’s death metal scene.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

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