MaYaN – De Helling, Utrecht – 22nd September 2018

For tonight’s album launch show, MaYaN have two suport acts. First up was Carthagods from Tunisia. Despite being Tunisian, they do have one familiar band member – Delain guitarist, Timo Somers. He’s played with them before for some live shows in Tunisia, but this is the first time the band have played with him in Timo’s home country, The Netherlands. It’s my first time seeing Carthagods, or even hearing anything by them and they put in a very impressive performance with some great guitar solos. They’re a band I’ll have to listen to a bit more – definitely a great start to the night.

Next up was French band Elyose. They too are celebrating a new album, with the new Elyose album (Reconnexion) out on the 27th September. They’ve got more of an industrial sound with the heavy guitar riffs contrasting nicely against the excellent clean female vocals from Justine Daaé. The only bit that felt out of place is that they have a male vocalist providing growls in some songs, but his shirt and tie just didnt fit with the band’s image or with the very good growling he did (he looked more like he’d just left school for the day). It’s a minor issue, but it did disrtact from the performance with a few people around me commenting on it. It’s a great set and I’m looking forward to hearing the album

Finally it was time for MaYaN. I’ve seen them quite a few times now over the last four years, and their live shows are always good, but tonight they took it to new heights. They kicked off with “The rhythm of freedom”, the first track from the new album, Dhyana, before proceeding to play the entire album in order. It’s one hell of an achievement – the new album is stunnigly good and is extremely complex, so to be able to reproduce every song live is impressive (a lot of bands skip the odd song or two as too hard to do live).
It’s an incredibly energy show and the sheer number of people is overwhelming. There are five musicians plus four singers on stage for the first song, with different singers coming on or off stage at various points. With so many vocalists of different styles, it’s a constantly changing sound and it just works fantastically well. Equally impressive is that every vocalist involved had a chance to be the main focus of attention at some point during the show.

For the album title track, “Dhyana”, they brought on a guest musician to play Cello as Laura Bacri sang It was a lovely gentle song – a moment of peace in the midst of the musical tornado that makes up a MaYaN show. It was noticeable tonight that opera singer Laura Macri has really grown in this symphonic death metal band – she’s always provided beautiful vocals but she looks happier and more confident on stage these days.

Although Merel Bechtold wasn’t on stage for the set, she did join them on stage for the encore, which made things even more crowded – I think at one stage there were 12 people performing on stage. At one point the three guitarists on stage were all playing close together and using one hand to play their guitar and the other to do the fret work on someone elses guitar. It was just one of many examples of the fun interplay there was between band members
It was really good that Merel was involved, as were all the members of MaYaN, including Henning Basse who is no longer a full-time member of the band. Celebrating the album release with all the musiciands involved being there, even if they won’t be at every show, just makes it even more special.

For the encore we get three songs – “Human sacrifice”, “Faceless spies” and “Bite the bullet” – a great end to a fantastic night.

With so many musicians on stage at the same time – and all moving around rather than just standing still, it’s amazing that nobody got hit by a guitar neck, nobody bumped into anyone or tripped and fell – the fact they managed it on such a cramped stage is impressive and a sign of how professional they all are. Every one of the musicians and vocalists involved is top class and they all put in excellent performances tonight.

With a band like MaYaN where different band members live in different places then I’m sure rehearsing together as a band is limted especially given the amount of people involved. Despite that, it was very noticeable that this was not a band just focussed on getting the songs right – they were having a lot of fun too. There was a lot of interaction between the band members and you could see how much they were enjoying it.

Tonight was a fantastic night and even the heavy rain in Utrecht couldnt dampen spirits. The venue was packed out during the show and afterwards it seemed like almost everyone hung around to talk to the band members and get photos, autographs etc, or to buy merch.

MaYaN were stunningly good, and with excellent support slots from both Elyose and Carthagods this really was a fantasic night.

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.