My knowledge of Mexican bands has always been limited to black metal, thanks to Impiety‘s Mexican lineup, opening the gates to bands like Warfield and Raped God to me. Majestic Downfall is therefore the first death/doom metal band that I encounter, and their second full length album, The Blood Dance, has surprised me with the quality of the music on it, to say the least.
The personal favourite of death/doom metal has been Australia’s The Dead, with their slightly progressive take on the genre, but what Majestic Downfall presents on their latest offering is something more straightforward and emotional, and would perhaps please fans of bands such as Draconian. With the album opener The Blood Dance and the soothing acoustic guitars, it would almost trick listeners into thinking that this would be a light-hearted journey, but once the growls of band mastermind (and multi-instrumentalist) Jacobo and the heavy, crushing guitars come in, any such impressions are dispelled as the listener is instead brought on an emotional, almost heart-wrenching hour-long ride. The vocals of Jacobo alternates between a low growl and shouts, and he manages to display whatever sadness that is present, dragging out the syllables on the lyrics and injecting them with an almost desperate sense. At times, Jacobo also makes use of clean vocals on the album as backup vocals for his growls, and this helps in further bringing out the desolation in the music.
Music-wise, the album is driven not by complex song structures, rather, it is by choosing a more straightforward style of presenting whatever the band feels to the listener in a direct manner, with the focus on crushing guitar riffs and slow, melancholic lead guitar lines that run above these riffs beneath, complementing the vocals at the same time, enhancing the effect that either one of these “instruments” would have on their own. At times, the band almost sound like a heavier version of Draconian, minus the clean female vocals, though they tend to have a somewhat less suffocating atmosphere compared to the aforementioned. Faster tracks like Army of Salvation also does not compromise on the emotional aspect, as the song still manages to emanate some sort of desperation. Session drummer Alfonso helps to create a suitable backdrop as well with the big tone of the drums, and it is nice to see the drums not stealing the limelight with fancy beats, instead fitting well with the rest of the instruments.
Also, while the tracks mostly clock in at more than 8 minutes, with the longest track From Black to Dead being at 11 minutes, there is not a moment that is spent wasted on the album as Jacobo has managed to make every single moment available on the album interesting and worth the time spent. The inclusion of strategic acoustic segments on longer tracks like From Black to Dead ensures that listeners have a small break, before going back to the heavier section once again, approaching the listener with fresh ears once more. The lead guitar segments such as on Majestic Embrace and Dimension Plague are also interesting, and though they do not fully portray Jacobo’s abilities on the instrument, they do spice things up a little and keeps the listener engaged throughout, making for The Blood Dance to be a somewhat fitting album to listen to on a cold, rainy day.