Veil of Maya – Not Ordinary Dreams

Reviewed: May 2001
Released: 1999, Anubis Records
Rating: 2.9/5
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos

I bought this album on sale to fill out a major order of power metal discs, having never heard of them before. Why did I choose it? Well, it’s very simple – “Veil of Maya” is the title of possibly the greatest song by the long-defunct and legendary progressive death metal band Cynic, whom I have always loved, and I figured these guys, if not trying to emulate Cynic, at least draw an influence or two from them.

I was right about that, but unfortunately the band Veil of Maya presents the textbook case of why I don’t care for most of progressive metal: it’s technically excellent, and extremely creative, but it just doesn’t have much soul. This Italian band consists of guys who can do tremendous guitar feats and even sing pretty well, but they just don’t do that much for me. Take the first track, “It’s Your Life.” It drips with warbly guitar acrobatics, smooth tempo changes, and even attempts at female operatic backing vocals. But it just sort of plods on without much emotion. The tinny, out-of-tune opening of “Silver Wings” sounds exactly like something Cynic would have tried, but this song too segues into a lot of really impressive musical pyrotechnics that never really grab you emotionally. I can’t even judge whether or not progressive metal fans will like this – after years of being exhorted by friends and foes alike to get into Dream Theater, I listen to them and still go, “Ehhhh, they’re all right, but not great.” If your mouth is dropping open in horror at that statement, Veil of Maya may be for you. I really can’t be sure.

There is some good stuff here. “Killing Machine” finally trots out some pretty solid riffs. I like the sludgey, slow opening of “Phobos” and the addition of the acoustic guitar that sounds like Spanish classical guitar. Like Cynic, there are some jazzy parts interspersed here. Unfortunately, unlike Cynic or Atheist, which were metal bands that had some jazz parts, the metal roots of Veil of Maya are lost far too often.

Finally, although I rarely poke fun at album covers, I just have to say that a progressive metal band with jazz and classical influences ought to have some really mind-blowing artwork. (The cover of Symphony X’s latest album pretty much sets a new standard for prog metal artwork). In my opinion, a guy in a suit with a paper bag over his head does not measure up. Just a thought…

Overall, this is probably worth having if you enjoy hearing a lot of great technical music. From the standpoint of a metal lay person, however, it may be one to skip.


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