Maitreya – Hyper Reels
Maitreya is a progressive metal-core band from Whitby. Not the town in Yorkshire, England, where Dracula landed in Bram Stoker’s novel. No, these guys are from Whitby, Ontario in Canada, a town that nestles on the shoreline of Lake Ontario close to Toronto. The band took their name from the ancient language of Sanskrit. It roughly translates or refers to the future buddha. Through this bodhisattva character, the band anthropomorphizes metaphysical concepts, spirituality & mysticism, science fiction aspects, and entheogenic experiences present in their music, (those are their words, not mine).
The original band started as an instrumental project back in 2011. In 2016 a chance encounter in a grocery store resulted in vocalist Matt Cutrara joining the ranks. The thing that broke the ice that day in the store was an Intervals t-shirt. I’m sure we have all started conversations with strangers because of band tour or album t-shirts. I know I have. In 2017 the band released a self-titled album and now in 2021 comes their second full length release “Hyper Reels”.
The opening track on the album was the last one to be written. ‘Catalyst’ quickly became the band’s favourite and there is good reason for that, and I concur. It shows the full array of styles the band has to offer. Heavy sections, clean-ambient moments, breakdowns, melodic lead solos, anthemic choruses, a drum solo and progressive exploratory song structure. The song was written about guitarist Mark Wylie who played a big role in bringing the band together. Mark’s dedication to the band has been undaunted through thick and thin, including undergoing surgery for oral cancer.
Maitreya – Catalyst (click here if the video does not play)
The Canadian quintet have produced a collection of dialogues exploring parallels between human consciousness and technological advancement. The idea for the track ‘Departed’ came from AI fiction such as Westworld, The Matrix, and Blade Runner. It explores themes questioning consciousness and revelations about the nature of truth. A bombastic almost orchestral intro leads to crunching chords and harsh vocals. When the song gets fully going, it alternates between ferocious and melodic.
‘Radical’ sets off at pace and is angrier and oppressive in its tone. This is to reflect the struggle of the character who the song is about. This person integrates his body and mind with technological upgrades. He then regrets his decisions after the artificial intelligence takes control of his consciousness. The song showcases what the band say is their signature spin on the traditional metalcore sound.
It is now quite evident that the band are keen on science fiction, fantasy, and mysticism. ‘Summit’ is inspired by Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods. It has a slower and eerie opening section, with vocalisation over a chugging riff and chiming guitar notes. The guitar parts get more complex, with Matt McCabe and Mark Wylie working together to produce a veritable sonic maelstrom. This they obviously enjoy because then they pretty much repeat the whole sequence again.
Maitreya – Summit (click here if the video does not play)
Speaking of things sonic, the short electronic opening to ‘Invaders’ brings to mind Sonic the Hedgehog. It obviously isn’t that, rather the sound of an old Space Invaders game. The song questions the place and impact of technology in our world. Vocalist Matt Cutrara lays out the full range of his skill set, from harsh to sweet and everything in between. The intensity of the accompanying music varies accordingly.
‘Bloom’ sets off like a juggernaut and never really lets up. In this the band explores dreams and the desire of everyone to be able to control the experience. It is told through the eyes of a dreamer that is tormented until they gain control. ‘Pilgrim’ brings things back to a more sedate pace, although in places there are frantic complex guitar patterns behind the vocals. The lyrics discuss how some people may feel imprisoned by social norms and systemic structures. Is it the feeling of being trapped or a more positive vision for a collective societal future?
Maitreya – Pilgrim (click here if the video does not play)
The inspiration for ‘Flesh Engine’ apparently came after seeing Meshuggah live while tripping on acid. During this experience, the mosh-pit appeared to engulf the entire room. The band on stage was like a mechanical engine that churned all the bodies into the room into a massive turbine. It contemplates whether identity can be defined as the sum of one’s memories and experiences. The bulk of the track evokes a sense of churning and whirling without the need to be on acid.
‘Hyper Reels’ is described as “A manifesto compilation of seed messages from songs spanning our discography”. I’m not sure what that means, but anyway it’s a short dystopian sounding spoken narrative.
So, arriving at the last track ‘Iswara’ reflects the plight of the average soul. Those trying to live without fear, and focusing on the things we do have, rather than what is absent. It is a suitably brutal finale to this wild ride.
What’s on the menu here is a wide range of flavours. There’s something to suit the taste of any serious metal fan. This relatively new band has some good ideas and knows how to execute them. Despite the current restrictions, these guys have plenty of time to bring the Maitreya brand to the fore.
- Catalyst (7:23)
- Departed (6:04)
- Radical (5:31)
- Summit (4:31)
- Invaders (6:18)
- Bloom (4:26)
- Pilgrim (4:44)
- Flesh Engine (4:31)
- Hyper Reels (0:57)
- Iswara (4:27)