Mayan – Antagonise (Nuclear Blast)Sunday, 12th January 2014
Mayan’s debut, Quarterpast, was an interesting experiment that was ultimately less than the sum of its parts. Unquestionably ambitious, the main problem was that of having the material mesh together and an overabundance of guests all over the place. Three years later, it seems Mayan has corrected its folly with sophomore effort, Antagonise.
Where things never really fell into place on Quarterpast, Antagonise narrows the focus a bit and provides a needed clarity and coherence. The symphonic elements are certainly a huge part of the band’s sound, but there is a coordination in place in tracks like the melodic death friendly “Burn Your Witches” and the symphonic-intensive yet crushing “Devil in Disguise” that was lacking in previous material. There will be some that are put off by this, but there is a decrease in prominent female operatic vocals in comparison with Quarterpast, but this too brings a more singular vision throughout the album. The growls and cleans are done well enough that you really won’t miss them anyway.
Whether or not this is partly due to an enhanced production, Antagonise is also a noticeably heavier beast. The aforementioned “Devil in Disguise,” alongside “Human Sacrifice”, and “Lone Wolf” provide a definitive death metal crunch that is sure to make any naysayers take notice. Despite the bulging heavy factor, the more symphonic and progressive elements flow quite well, as witnessed on “Faceless Spies.” Providing contrast between the blasting, death metal segments with intersecting piano and leading into a nicely progressive middle featuring solid clean vocal work before ramping things back up and finally ending it with some strings, it’s clear why this track was chosen as the first to be released to the public.
Antagonise makes good on the promises of their debut and sees the band truly shaping and molding their own identity. Less cluttered, more focused, and downright heavier, Mayan is truly onto something here. While their masterpiece is still on the horizon ahead of them, this will serve as an excellent introduction to anyone seeking some top-notch symphonic death metal.