Saturday, December 7, 2013

Veil of Maya at the Gramercy Theatre

Brandon Butler
From the ashes of their previous melodic death metal band, Insurrection, Marc Okubo and Sam Applebaum formed Veil of Maya in 2004 in Chicago, Illinois. The name of the band was derived from the Hindu illusion, Maya. Veil of Maya has had as many as three guitarists at a time, but since 2007 Okubo has been the band’s sole guitarist. The group has released four studio albums, the most recent being 2012’s Eclipse. A new song, “Subject Zero,” was released via internet streaming on October 30, 2013. The band is presently comprised of Brandon Butler on vocals, Okubo on guitars, Danny Hauser on bass and Applebaum on drums.

An unattentive listener at the Gramercy Theatre tonight might have dismissed Veil of Maya as yet another heavy band with a growling singer. A closer listen revealed a fresh new enterprise. Heavy metal music fans argue the existence of "djent." Swedish band Meshuggah reportedly coined the term “djent” to refer to a distorted crunching sound that can be made on electric guitars. If there is a subgenre of “djent,” Veil of Maya has mastered the technique. At times this sounded like a nearby washing machine was breaking down in the spin cycle. It was a jarring rhythmic assaulted the ears. This was not mechanical failure, however, but the foundation for a brutal mix of progressive metal, melodic death metal, thrash and hardcore music. The most prevalent elements of Veil of Maya’s music, that being the growling vocals, pounding rhythm sections and repeated musical breakdowns, are as common in metalcore as tonight’s moshpitters and crowd surfers. For the attentive listener, however, Veil of Maya was distinctive in the way it subtly incorporated the mythical “djent” into a creative mix of savage riffs, fragmented leads and shredding solos. At times it sounded like jazz metal; okay, I am going to coin this new term right now so metal fans can argue its existence. In any case, Veil of Maya may become one of the bands to lead metalcore in new directions.