"Near Life Experience" (Siegen Records; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

In the year 2000 any self-respecting metal head will probably associate the words "melodic death metal" with Sweden not unlike someone might associate the word "grunge" with the Seattle scene of the early nineties. The fact that Mayadome come from Sweden and doesn't play "melodic death metal" makes this effort stand out from the crowded Swedish metal scene. Mayadome play progressive metal and competently so.

Like most progressive bands Mayadome present their songs with an abundance of time changes, well-sung vocal melodies, challenging arrangements, wonderfully told stories, and elongated instrumental sections. Mayadome don't stray far from the boundaries of progressive metal, but that's OK. What they do they do well; just don't expect any ground breaking material.

The guitars are not overly aggressive and the riffs and melody runs provide a solid base for which the band can shine; the lead lines of the guitar soar with grace. Mayadome's keyboard sound plays the prototypical colors of progressive giants by effectively providing a bright sheen to the songs. The bass and drums are lock-step in a variety of patterns and rhythms to keep the listeners' interest. 

The lyrics are rooted in positive thinking and hope grounded in the limits of reality. Some serious topics are dealt with in an intelligent manner (the right to die, the tug-of-war of individuality and community, and indignation). Heady topics for heady music. 

There are no weak spots on the seven tracks, but "Restorepair," "Able To Feel," and the title track are standout songs that are worthy of repetition. These three tracks capture bright specks of light in tight spaces like the way dust catches the sun's rays in the early morning. 

Mayadome's "Near Life Experience" is almost too much like Dream Theater for my tastes, but it is still a good representation of late '90s progressive metal. Lest you think I am down on Maydome let me set the record straight: I am eagerly anticipating new Mayadome material in 2001. 

Mayadome are the perfect complement to Dream Theater, Digital Ruin, Shadow Gallery, and Pain Of Salvation when I want to play five progressive CDs in the ol' 5-disc changer on random. 

"Near Life Experience" was produced by Teddy Moeller and Fredrik Kjorling. 

Mayadome is Bassel Elharbiti on lead vocals, Fredrik Kjorling on lead guitar, Erik Grandin on bass, Jonas Hagg on keyboards, and Teddy Moeller on drums and vocals. Tina Gunnarsson sings backing vocals on "Able To Feel."

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.