In 2015, metalcore pioneers Veil of Maya released their fifth album Matriarch. It was their first record with clean vocals on it, courtesy of new vocalist Lukas Magyar. Depending on who you ask, the injection of this new blood either reinvigorated the group, poisoned them, or worse, made them sound like a Periphery clone. Whether you loved, hated or were altogether unfazed by Matriarch, the band saw no reason to change course and have continued down their chosen artistic path. Though by no means at the end of their journey, the band have pulled to the side to show us their progress over the last two years, which has been distilled into a brand new album called False Idol.
If you were on the fence about the sound change after listening to Matriarch, False Idol will likely plant your feet firmly on either side of the fence. It is an album with a much stronger sense of identity than its predecessor, leading it to be far more effective proof of concept. This is not to say that Matriarch doesn’t have its own shining moments, but if someone were looking to get to know the current iteration of Veil of Maya this would be the album to point them towards. With just one listen you can tell is a band that has had some time to adjust to their new situation and is ready to operate effectively within it.
Going back to that strong sense of identity mentioned earlier, False Idol is built on a foundation of killer choruses, atmospheric touches and a heaviness that sees the band slowing down a bit. Lukas having proper slotting in the songs because they’re written with him in mind makes a huge difference in how this album plays out. He gets to hit memorable, ear-catching choruses all over this record, with some notable ones being “Doublespeak”, “Pool Spray” and “Manichee”, which is the first Veil of Maya song to have exclusively clean vocals. On top of being given properly structured songs to work with, the quality of his vocals seem to have improved as well. While the vocals are an upfront representation of the work that went into the album, the atmospheric touches that sit beneath or linger around the music add layers that make the music worth inspecting and revisiting.
From eerie whispers at the end of songs to well placed synths/pianos throughout the record, the atmosphere and programming play a major role in making this a unique album in Veil’s discography. The synthesizer presence that first appeared on [id] has continued to become more pronounced and intricate with each album and this feels like the peak of that progression. The opening of “Citadel”, with its quiet pianos, echoing vocals and strings could not have been on any other album released by the band. “Tyrant”, with its spacey synth underneath the chorus and the claps that follow, could not have been on any other album released by this band. Choices like these, both noticeable and subtle, make the album feel like a living, breathing entity.
Another component of the album that sets it apart from what the band has done before is taking the time to slow down. On this album they take a different route when it comes to being heavy, at least for them. Instead of firing on all cylinders, sometimes they pull back and just bend that low end so you can marinate in a stupidly heavy riff accented by cymbal hits, like on the aforementioned “Pool Spray.” This variation makes songs more distinct and memorable as the album doesn’t feel like it’s all one speed/tempo. Don’t worry about the whole album being slow, either. There are still faster songs like “Follow Me” that kick things up when necessary.
False Idol is Veil of Maya’s proper take on their new sound. While still being a distinctly Veil of Maya record, it’s got an entirely different presence and identity than the releases that came before it. Matriarch served its purpose as a decent introduction to new concepts and ideas that the band could explore, but False Idol takes those concepts and ideas and fleshes them out so they can be employed effectively. With song structures that both effectively highlight and complement Lukas, atmospheric touches that add layers worth revisiting and some tempo switch ups that slow the band down when it’s time to get heavy or even take a light ballad break, False Idol dominates.
Veil of Maya’s False Idol is out now via Sumerian Records