MaYan – Dhyana (Nuclear Blast)Tuesday, 2nd October 2018
The age old question that seems to trouble the symphonic metal is, “In a world where more is more is the mentality, when does something become an overindulgence?” In other words, can there be too much of a good thing? In the case of MaYan’s latest, Dhyana, the answer is an unfortunate ‘yes.’ To give some background, MaYan has been something of a supergroup since their inception in 2010. The Mark Jansen-led (Epica) collective have strived to make more impressive and bombastic material with each release. 2014’s Antagonise seemed to grasp the idea pretty well, even in doing some streamlining of material to allow for a more focused vision.
It’s tough to label the group a purely symphonic death metal act on their third effort, Dhyana, but that shouldn’t be a negative in and of itself. Going to the point of crowdfunding to collaborate with the prestigious Prague Philharmonic Orchestra is what gives the band some extra tools this time around. In listening solely to the opener, “The Rhythm of Freedom,” it’s very clear that the approach is more genuinely cinematic this time (and they certainly got their money’s worth with the orchestral arrangements). It’s organic, and when it’s firing on all cylinders, it’s pretty amazing in scope (see “Set Me Free” or “The Power Process”). However impressive the scope may be, there’s a few holes that need addressing. In going for the full gusto, there are also a number of moments that feel choppy overall. In veering from a death metal attack to a symphonic, operatic vibe (with vocals from Laura Macrì and Marcela Bovio) leads to more of a disconnect than what there should be. A few times, it feels like two different bands competing for space (see “Saints Don’t Die”). While it’s not an album killer, some may be somewhat off-put by the opposing forces at times, and a bit disappointing when viewed against Epica’s most recent works, which feature more seamless transitions.
Dhyana is a very ambitious project. MaYan takes a very large pool of talent and does the best it can to condense things into a flowing and majestic form. However, some rough edges remain and ultimately hold the album back a little bit from what it could have been.