MaYan are back and still have the symphonic mastermind of Mark Jansen at the helm, although this time he has mixed things up and thrown in the absolute juggernaut that is The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

Dhyana is the bands 3rd full length offering since their birth in 2010, and this release lists some of the genre’s big names in its fleet. Van Weesenbeek (Epica), Driessen (Ex After Forever), Jansen (Epica), Bechtold (Delain), Oosthoek (ex After Forever live) and Bovio (The Gentle Storm live, ex Stream of Passion, ex Vuur, ex Kamelot live) are all included in the roll call, to highlight but a few.

The opus unbolts with ‘The Rhythm Of Freedom’ and at 7 minutes plus, it is a titan, and sets out the bands intentions clearly from the start. The track is grandiose and epic, with Van Weesenbeek providing a steel girder of a back bone on the drums, whilst Schiphorst and Bechtold provide intricacy and wonder on the guitars. You also catch the first glimpse of the operatic magnificence of the album, along with stunning vocals which are delivered with power and majesty.

‘Tornado Of Thoughts’ and ‘Saints Don’t Die’ conjure up more majestic symphonies throughout, and the title track ‘Dhyana’ sees some pure indulgence in the operatic vocals of Macri and Bovio.

‘The Illusory Self’ is a standout for me, and is also the marathon of the release, clocking in at 09.13. It almost needs this time purely to exhibit all of the flawless passion and beauty it has to offer. This is then followed by the second shortest track of the collective, ‘Satori’, and this helps keep you grounded with a short lesson in classical and operatic splendour, being even more decadent than decadence itself. The keys on ‘Satori’, courtesy of Driessen, create an intro of beauty, and this then leads into the ravenous exquisiteness of the rest of the track, and it is so licentious you can’t begin to comprehend its DNA, we just must sit back and let the splendour envelope our souls.

‘Maya (The Veil of Delusion)’ is another highlight, and is anthemic in its make-up, with both clean and guttural vocals vying for dominance, all interwoven with orchestral magic and prominent brass sections.

‘Set Me Free’ ends the proceedings and continues to deliver up a complex equation in its structure. The balance is of a technical magnitude and it is a real behemoth of a track, and the perfect soundtrack to enable you to reflect on what you have just been a part of.

This album has it all, clean and harsh vocals, keys, orchestral imagination and magnificence a plenty. If symphonic metal, whether you prefer to test the water with your toes, or dive straight in, and you aren’t familiar with this band yet, you really do need to rethink your priorities in life. This is a beast of an album and sincerely needs to be on everyone’s metal radar.

(9/10 Phil Pountney)