Matriarch review by Veil of Maya

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  • Released: May 12, 2015
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6 Neat
  • Users' score: 6.9 (40 votes)
Veil of Maya: Matriarch
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Sound — 7
So this is album number five for Sumerian staples, Veil of Maya. They've carved themselves a unique niche within the label, both at once appealing to fans of the normal roster while having a very technical/progressive edge to their music. They helped branch out the general "core" genres with other acts like The Faceless, After The Burial and early Born Of Osiris before the latter started sucking eggs.

What VoM and its circle did was bring some actual progression to the genre, flesh it out a bit, make it closer to being as diverse as death or black metal, two major genres with a lot of crossover.

I've made it plain in the past that deathcore can go get itself rekt, and still, after nine years of being aware of its existence, I've yet to hear a band that was anything other than the same as the next deathcore band, baring a few exceptions. Few and far between, but there's a few bands who broke the mould purely by adding some actual technical ability.

"Matriarch" isn't going to produce the same results as say, "The Common Man's Collapse." It is, without beating about the bush, the exact same album they've released for the past 5 years, just with more djent riffs and a "factory fresh" production. That's just not a prospect I was really excited about nor did it leave a good taste in my ears: it is essentially the "we're the same but different" marketing spiel.

But that's not to say its a bad album. There's still the intricate, neo-classical riffing, ridiculously tight syncopation and haywire song strong structures. There's even more annoying vocals, but we'll get to that when we get to that. Overall, in the actual music department, it is typical Veil of Maya. There is really not that much out of the ordinary, which is a bit sad. A few songs like "Mikasa" and "Phoenix" stand out for their respective reasons, the former being this albums version of "It's Not Safe To Swim Today" plus some cheesy clean vocals (I think we're onto "INSTST v.4" if counting "Codex" and "that other one") while the latter is singularly diverse among the other songs on the album for its collective variety. Those are my personal choices, although that's from a pretty biased perspective. I will say that "Lucy" has this really awesome bit where it sinks into this Animals as Leaders style clean riff with epic chords, but then you realise "Oh sh-t, this is just The Faceless." This album highlights just how important it is for a band to do more than just keep replicating past success. 

If I had one thing to say about the production, it's that its dangerously close to being Within The Ruins level of what I describe, with all the maturity you've come to expect from me, with the word "euuuch." By that I mean, if it weren't for VoM's undoubtedly proficient technical ability as a band, I'd swear everything excluding the vocals is a mechanically quantized technical exercise in "factory fresh" production. It's nowhere near as egregious as WTR however, and I give them props for somehow finding a magical guitar tone that works for both djent and spirally, technical riffs.

Lyrics — 5
I could behind VoM as a band, even with their sort-of generic older vocalist Brandon Butler. But this new guy just further compounds the problem with "Matriarch" being a rather generic release. Indistinct death/metalcore vocals conveying a message completely mired in the technique, making them more and more rhythmical and less expressive. Even the Justin Hill-style scat screaming and clean singing suffers from being way too similar to Generic Metalcore Band #83789396 to such a degree that it started physically grating on my ears. I'll give them that "Mikasa" does have a very infectious chorus, however, and that lydian movement in "Lisbeth" is pretty swish.

At the very least, they vocals are functional and well performed, even with all the gimmicky, glitchy production tricks used whenever there's a free space.

Lyrically, I'm not certain on the very specific concept of this album, but reading some of the song names, its easy to deduce that they all refer to female protagonists in various media franchises. Obvious examples are "Leeloo" ("The 5th Element"), "Ellie" ("The Last of Us") and "Aeris" ("Final Fantasy 7") while there's one or two slightly obscure ones such as "Teleute" (AKA Death, from "Neil Gaimans Sandman" series) and "Three-Fifty" which I assume is a reference to "Y: The Last Man." Now the lyrics themselves, and not the concepts, don't really say a lot despite this obvious theme running throughout. An example from "Mikasa":

"Align the stones to form
a message in the sand
I will never relinquish
It is written in the sand."

I'm personally not sure what to make of that, other than a desire to not have said message erased (cuz why else use stones). I'm just going to presume these songs are about the strengths/story of these characters portrayed through a song, in which case, yay equality and all that figurative jazz.

Overall Impression — 6
I was kind of hoping for some change or twist from a purportedly progressive metal act (or have I been deceived all these years). Yet, "Matriarch" just doesn't really deviate in an interesting way, and it's just too similar to their previous releases for me to get enthusiastic about. I'd probably just go back to "[id]" or something, personally.

That said, if you were already a fan, unless you have the misgivings I have about musical progression, you'll probably still enjoy this album. It has its moments and feels fairly sincere, and doesn't wear out its welcome either.

Songs to look out for: "Mikasa," "Phoenix," "Lisbeth."

32 comments sorted by best / new / date

    shadowsoldier08
    only a few playthroughs in, but I feel like this is more of a reverberations of the CMM/iD sound. eclipse was too much the all too typical "get brutal" djent-core/meshuggah-murmur; strayed far from the interlaced melodies and technical maturity I fell in love with in the beginning. Matriarch is a step in the right direction I believe. Vocalist change aside, while Brandon did have more of a signature sound about him, Lukas definitely adds a new level with his cleans, which are rather enjoyable. Haters gonna hate.
    Swizzlefizzle
    Well said, Bud. The editor of this article sounds like he listened to a different album. Haters gonna hate.
    fajaquackquack
    I really don't understand the death metal fan base that just b*tches about singing. The singers voice sounds great. To much screaming gets just as boring as cliche singing. Its the same stupid argument with this album as it was when city of evil came out. Appreciate the album for its technicality, song structure, great production, and crazy death metal writing rather then complain bout singing.
    stagepotato
    This album will come fairly high in my AOTY 2015 list. I was never a VoM fan until I heard Matriarch but this album got me really hooked...And I'm usually not a fan either of clean vocals except for Periphery maybe but they're so damn catchy on Matriarch. But the riffs are what stands out the most on this album.
    Whiplash2067
    I think this album is fantastic, and I've been listening since Common Mans Collapse. Everyone just puts bands on such a pedestal and as soon as they vary in the slightest, it's a mortal sin. I can appreciate every album I've listened to for what it is, music in general, not just VoM. It sounds good, it's heavy, it's catchy, it grooves. It's a good album. Listen to it for the music. Listen to it for what it is, not what you want it to be.
    Black Hazard
    You know people are really grasping for straws when the only things they can complain about are good production and a lack of "RAH RAH RAH REEEEE" vocals that you need a book of lyrics to decipher.
    a drummer
    All this release has done is make me miss Brandon Butler even more. iD was such a good record..but I can say that musically, i'm enjoying this more than Eclipse.
    m4ss3 m/
    Generic this, generic that... If I make a record of just recording my own farts, will you give it 10/10? I mean, no one has actually done that before (I think) so it's pretty original...
    theblazinasian
    I don't care what anyone says. I like catchy clean hooks and I like Mikasa. Unfortunately, nothing else on the record really jumped out at me.
    Kizil
    If you're up for a friendly suggestion, the song Aeris is also quite good (imo)! Check it out if you haven't already!
    cemerson2012
    I really I high hopes for this release, I can appreciate it for what it is though I guess.
    vppark2
    Am I the only one who noticed that UG hired EpiExplorer? I mean, not a bad review I guess, but just thought he was one of the last choices UG woud ever hire.
    Ibanezrocker800
    Funny, I said to myself while reading the review "this sounds like that elitist epi guy who likes to talk mad shit on all the reviews and terrorize the comments sections" and sure enough here you are confirming this. The review IMO is all over the place, in spots complimenting the lyrics and vocals as being catchy and well performed, but opens the review calling them annoying. The closing statement says that fans will enjoy it for its sincerity and that it "doesn't wear out its welcome" but gives it a 6/10 overall...which would equate to a D in grade school. Which is it? is it an almost awful CD? Or is it an average - good cd that just missed the mark in a couple places? It felt like an un-nuanced review with contradictory absolutes to me. My 2 cents on the album itself - I think it's a well written cd with a variety of songs, each with at least one or two redeeming riffs/grooves. Some are boring overall, some are great overall. The vocals are forced in spots, but overall they are used pretty good. I would give it a 7.5/10 overall, giving it props for being a really well produced, super tight, and fun listen, but deducting points for some awkward moments and a couple of boring tracks in the long view of them. Without comparing it to previous efforts or bands, and in its own right, this is a decent album and worth at least a single listen.
    vppark2
    Yeah, man. Not sure who actually thumb'd up his review, and how he even got the likes to get hired. I find it embarrassing. Also, a 6 is above average, so more like in the C+ range..
    Ibanezrocker800
    Shit's crazy man, glad I'm not the only one thinking so haha. I never know how to read the number scales here...do you consider a 5 exact average? and a 1 a complete failure? My grading scales in school were always 90-100 A, 80-89 B, 70-79 C, 60-69 D, below 60 is an F. So I guess I'm right there with a C-C+ if that's the case.
    Wildmen
    Clean vocals parts is not progressive and innovative. It's always the same, and when i heard another clean part i think: man, i already heard it a hundred of times. It's just lame and GENERIC. And, of course, it's strange to hear a MGMT-style singing in heavy core. I know many good bands, mixing clean and harsh vocals, but the core music songwriters lack this skill The second generic pseudo-innovative thing in core genre - it's sympho parts. Add cleans and sympho - and be a absolutely dumb Wanna be more innovative? Play more technical, or avant-garde. Mix styles. Listen Arsonists Get All the Girls to get some really original deathcore
    gorkyporky
    You want them to mix styles but you complain about that very thing for this record.
    travislausch
    Clean vocals seem good from the songs I've heard so far. But they're really starting to edge closer and closer to sounding more like a rip-off of Periphery than they already did... Not that I dislike Periphery or anything, but I can see why the style would have its haters.
    travislausch
    I've had a chance to listen to it in full recently, and I have to say, I still kinda stand behind this. It's decent djent. The addition of clean vocals to their sound is a welcome change, but they still sound like pretty much every other djent band out there now. I like it, but not enough to put it in a top-10 list or anything.
    mlwry
    This can't cold a candle to their previous albums unfortunately. Also that artwork is horrrendous.
    BwareDWare94
    Yeah, the artwork looks like a ripoff of Sun Eater, and when you consider how much poorer the music is on this album, is absolutely hilarious.
    acdc51502112
    To me, there are a few good VoM like tunes in this record, with the rest being meh generic filler. Being another one of VoM's EP length full length records, there is just too much of this filler for me to really get into the album. Production is fine, but I just keep hearing this constant movement towards being Periphery post Periphery II, which is utter garbage in my opinion. They're losing all that I felt was cool about VoM, the crazy riffage and in your face epic feelings portrayed in previous albums. I guess I'm just going to go back to [ID] and a common man's collapse to hear what I thought VoM was.
    kevinsolgaard
    I found this album yesterday, and have already run through it like 4 times, and i actually love it! I actually think this new album is more intriguing in some way, and the clean vocals are pretty sweet IMO A lot of the songs are very catchy! But yeah, a lot people will bitch about the clean vocals, because "uuh,so gay and non-metal" but i think it's just desillusion speaking, because you expected something else
    Angelicc
    This album was one of the most boring albums I've listened to in awhile. Nothing interesting stood out about this album and it was a huge departure, and letdown, of their previous sound.
    vppark2
    Also, this shit sounds like a poor man's Erra, and I dont even like that band.