False Idol review by Veil of Maya

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  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 8.5 (18 votes)
Veil of Maya: False Idol
7

Sound — 7
Despite the subgenre being close to a decade old now, djent still seems to be a very divisive term within the metal community, usually conjuring images of guitars with way too many strings (and at least one of them tuned well into the lower bass register, which that guitarist will ride into oblivion), production that's too modern and crisp and clean, and as a result, it seems there are plenty of hard-hitting names that are trying to distance themselves somewhat from what is considered to be the "core" sound, pioneered by bands like Periphery. Chicago's Veil of Maya, on the other hand, seems to be doing the opposite. Starting from something of a more traditional "deathcore" sound, the band has incorporated more and more "djent" leanings into their sound, often with a cheeky sense of humour (see the outro of "Punisher" from their "Eclipse" album for a good example), and on their last album, "Matriarch", even began to experiment with clean vocals (courtesy of newcomer vocalist Lukas Magyar), pushing them completely into "djent" territory.

The band has not abandoned all of the traits that have made them unique in the metal realm, though. From the first minute of "Fracture", strange guitar noises and bass-heavy riffage abound. The songs retain their short, punchy lengths (not one track on this album exceeds four-and-a-half minutes long, odd for just about any genre of metal outside of grindcore). Despite the band's new focus on catchy, melodic vocals, Lukas still gives the band some very heavy harsh vocals. But if the catchy parts are something they've only started experimenting with on "Matriarch", "False Idol" expands upon them greatly. "Doublespeak" contains one of the best hooks you'll hear in a djent album this year, along with some deliciously choppy-sounding guitars. "Overthrow" contains some quirky guitar riffs that transcend the whole "000000" riffing idea, showing guitarist Marc Okubo's talents, and also features some soaring vocal melodies. "Whistleblower" brings some unique atmospheres to the table with some interesting background vocals and effects. "Pool Spray" has some very captivating harmony vocals that almost bring to mind Monuments more than Periphery. But there are still some very "deathcore" moments on the album as well, like the intro to the blistering "Follow Me".

Pretty much the whole album follows this formula to a T, with some very obviously djent-inspired riffs, epic melodic choruses, and it's safe to say that in terms of songwriting, Veil of Maya have found a formula that works for them on "False Idol" and stuck to it. Because of this, it's hard to really pinpoint any particular standout moments on the album, though you'd be hard-pressed to find anything to dislike if you're a fan of the style. From the soaring harmony vocals in many tracks to eccentric guitar riffs from Marc featuring whammy-bar-fluttered harmonics and weird noises in between chunky riffage, the writing is pretty standardized throughout. "Manichee" maybe presents the biggest diversion, with the entirety of the song featuring clean vocals and slower riffs. "Citadel" is a very similar track, working in a bit more "traditional" metalcore paradigm, that also features a very interesting intro with some wordless vocals and piano, and it's probably the only moment with some more interesting production trickery, something the band seems to be a bit lighter on than many of their contemporaries. And the production is fairly bass-heavy, even though Danny Hauser's bass playing rarely stands out against Marc's guitar playing, he is certainly very audible through the whole album. Sam Applebaum's drumming is as tight as you'd expect in the genre, though I'd say the drum sound is a bit of a weakness, as a lot of the snare hits sound the same, leading me to believe that the drums may be programmed in spots.



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Lyrics — 7
With track titles like "Whistleblower", "Doublespeak" and "Overthrow", one would probably expect that "False Idol" has a more political bent to the lyrics, but if these lyrics are political in nature, the band does a good job at obfuscating their views. Instead, we're treated to some very typical extreme metal lyrics along the lines of the anger of "They'll fear me in the afterlife/I will haunt you endlessly" ("Whistleblower") and the man vs. machine motifs in "These machines will not see defeat/As they sever your arteries/Mindless skeletons under control/Slay them all 'til their blood is cold" ("Follow Me"). These are not exactly poorly-written lyrics, as they certainly do get the point across, but there's not a whole lot of originality left in lyrics like "Turning your back on the bond we've made/You've dug your own grave/And now your terror is mine to shape/I'll watch you die afraid" ("Doublespeak") anymore.

Rather than the focus being on the words themselves, "False Idol" tends to be more about the delivery of those words by vocalist Lukas Magyar, and when it comes to his harsh vocals, he's definitely capable of some absolutely terrifying screams. There is a bit of variety in his harsh vocals, as well, with double-tracked low and high parts adding emphasis to certain lines, and a change in timbre at times that gives his harsh vocals a bit of an edge over a lot of metal screamers. But the real treat is his clean vocals, and while it'd be way too easy to criticize their similarity to Spencer Sotelo's vocals in Periphery, what they add to Veil of Maya's sound is an edge of epicness and willingness to experiment, and I think having clean vocals has been a vast improvement to Veil of Maya's music.

Overall Impression — 7
After their transition into a fully-fledged djent band, complete with all the sub-genre's trappings (for better or worse), on "Matriarch", Veil of Maya have continued their trend on "False Idol", expanding upon the additions to their sound, but while still maintaining the things that have separated them from other bands in the style, such as Marc Okubo's spastic guitar riffs, and their incredibly tight production.

In a way, it's kind of strange to see a band only begin to fully embrace the djent style, because as new as the style is, it's nearly a decade old by now, and has proven to have more longevity than the majority of its detractors have claimed (for the sake of comparison, The Beatles were together for a shorter period of time than the majority of the "classic" djent bands have been). But Veil of Maya proves that there's still some validity to djent, and "False Idol" is an album that's sure to please any fan of bands like Periphery or Animals as Leaders. But if the band's shift into more melodic territory on their last album, "Matriarch", did nothing for you, it might be best to avoid this album. For what it is, however, this is a really good album.



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21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    travislausch
    Full disclosure: this review isn't my best-written one. I had a very, very hard time really putting my thoughts on this album down. When I took on this review, I had expected to like this album a lot more than I did. And it's getting some positively glowing reviews elsewhere. As much as I try to keep my deeper personal opinions out of reviews, I still do have to admit that, while I liked the album, I wasn't completely blown away by it.  So yeah, sorry if this review is a little less "collected" than some of my past ones. I'm already working on a couple more that my thoughts are a little bit clearer on  
    theblazinasian
    I'm actually digging this a lot, which surprised, because I could never latch onto Matriarch. It's not particularly innovative, but I feel like it's just executed so well.
    vppark2
    That makes 2 of us Asians who dig it.
    MetalRock4ever
    Make that three!
    vppark2
    You said you're from China?
    MetalRock4ever
    Does being half-Indian count?
    copperwreck
    Djent is a decade old? Meshuggah are at least 3 decades, even if their first efforts might be more of a prog-thrash,
    travislausch
    I consider the start of "djent as a genre" to be when Animals as Leaders' debut came out, in 2009, though it wasn't until Misha Mansoor popularized the term after Periphery's debut. Funny enough, though, I would actually call Meshuggah's None EP-through-Chaosphere stuff to be more "djent" than anything they've done since Nothing.
    m4ss3 m/
    I'm not even going to say about this shitty ass review. I've had this album on repeat since last Friday and it's easily the album of the year for me (if not the decade). Last time I'm going to ruin my Friday evening by reading another review on this site. 
    travislausch
    I mean other than the fact that I've acknowledged above that I just wasn't "feeling" this album or even this review, I'd like to think 7/10 is still pretty a respectable score. 
    bjgrifter
    I think your review was spot on. Matriarch was a "meh" for me, and I think the vocals on that were where the band hadn't quite gotten a solid grasp on the melodic metal end. Lukas 's vocals really stood out to me and it sounds like he's using his pipes. I think just doing a single spin of the disc makes a Periphery comparison easy to hear on the surface, but subsequent rounds dust off that notion.
    fajaquackquack
    The main issue I had with this album is the song writing. Theyre are a ton of crazy riffs and a lot of technicality, but it sounds like they just through recycled stuff together and said "heres a song". Regardless of how someone might of felt about matriarch, the song structure was just way more solid on that album. 
    vppark2
    Ehhh debatable. At least the clean singing on this album is miles better IMO.