Death metal has become a caricature of itself. As much as metalheads lament the cleancut image of ‘poser’ bands like Between the Buried and Me and August Burns Red, the simple fact is that the ‘metal’ image is like a picture of a fireworks display: flashy and theatrical, but when you look at it from the side it’s completely two-dimensional. Groups like The Black Dahlia Murder have found a happy medium between utilising the dark imagery and balancing it with enough self-mockery to remind us that anyone who truly lives the ‘metal’ image is both unemployable and probably living in a forest, subsisting on abandoned bird nests.
This brings me to MaYan. Symphonic death metal has always been the most bombastic of the myriad subgenres and their new album, Antagonise, is no different. Full of blast beats, down-tuned guitars, soaring orchestral moments and a clean singer that wouldn’t be out of place on a Stryper album, it’s completely hilarious. There’s a synth solo in second track “Burn Your Witches” that actually made me laugh. It’s just power metal masquerading as death metal.
Fair’s fair, though. The songwriting is tight and the musicianship is brilliant. The guitar solos approach ludicrous speed (that’s for all the SpaceBalls fans out there) and the drummer is a deadest freak. It’s just hard to appreciate these things when the songs are such a schizophrenic mess. “Burn Your Witches” is the best example of what I’m talking about, so I’ll stick with it for a little longer. It transitions between straight up death metal and then becomes a hair metal song. This swap occurs several times in the song. Serious question: why do bands insist on incorporating elements of the hair metal era? Grunge is lauded as a saviour because this is what it was saving us from. I feel like the entire world did when Rihanna got back with Chris Brown. Honey, you can do better.
In closing, you won’t find anything on Antagonise you haven’t heard before. It’s got some appeal to the unwashed, tattooed masses, but realistically, you could just listen to Ovid’s Withering, a much better band. If you like death metal with brass sections and hair metal choruses, then MaYan is the band for you. Also, what the hell, man?