Majestic Downfall – Aorta Review

Unheralded veterans of the underground, Mexican misery dealers Majestic Downfall popped up on my radar when I reviewed their enjoyable fourth LP, …When Dead back in 2015. Somewhere along the line I overlooked their 2018 release Waters of Fate, so can’t attest to its quality. However, based on my sole previous experience with the band I eagerly jumped on the chance to reacquaint myself with their latest opus of crushing death-doom, entitled Aorta. Now don’t be fooled by the mere four tracks offered, as Majestic Downfall specialize in long form compositions, unleashing an ambitiously lengthy slab of Peaceville inspired gloom, tipping the scales at a whopping 68 minutes. Does the quality of material dished up match the band’s ambition?

Majestic Downfall nail the basics of their chosen style very well. Forlorn melodies, mournful leads, and thick crushing riffs are backed by plodding funereal tempos, suitably bleak atmospheric weight, and powerfully executed death growls. The four marathon compositions leave much to unpack and absorb. Each provides their share of powerful and engaging moments, even if its difficult to isolate and recall specific segments after the somber final tones have subsided on nearly 20 minute closer “Become Eternal.” By design Aorta seems purpose built for the long haul, immersive journey, and It’s difficult not to admire the commitment and detail behind the opus. There is cohesion and purpose embedded throughout, with subtle shifts in mood and tempo providing hints of much desired songwriting dynamics. However, self-editing, or lack thereof, can be a thorn in the side of the album.

Dual guitar harmonies and sorrowful melodies bleed glimmers of hope amidst the evocative, soul searching and heart-wrenching vibes drifting through. When Majestic Downfall arrange and time their change-ups for maximum impact the album thrives, such as the languid headbanging flow and funereal plod on expansive opener “Roberta,” which integrates sharper bursts of hammering aggression and tempo speed-ups. Juggling the balance between their doom-laden, melancholic core and livelier death stomps is the tricky part. Certainly the album’s impactful melodies carry an intense emotional pull, while the guitar work stands out with a hypnotic blend of sinister melodies, sadboi swells, and heftier riffage. Although I would prefer the band to up the tempo a little more often for increased dynamic impact, Aorta‘s doom-heavy core is plenty satisfying. “A Dying Crown” is guilty of being a tad too sluggish and meandering at times, however, its funeral doom-esque dirges, ominous tone, and anguished growls wield fine moments of heaving destruction, evidence of Majestic Downfall‘s potential and power.

Aorta is a mammoth beast full of heart, anguish and requisite emotional weight and atmosphere that lovers of death-doom crave. Multi-talented mainman Jacobo Córdova’s meaty, menacing growls, coupled with the immense might of the guitars and thumping rhythm section, creates genuinely heavy, impactful moments. The beefy production hammers home the band’s intent with sonic muscle. Overall, I’ve enjoyed my time with Aorta and found it an accomplished album from an underrated band. Aorta has provided a refreshing change of pace after a recent period of nostalgia based listening habits and speedier fare. However, my interest has fleetingly drifted during the extended listening sessions absorbing the material from start to finish. I am not an impatient guy when it comes to appreciating an album chock full of subtleties, emotion and long form arrangements. But the results are not quite as fulfilling or consistently diversified to justify its length.

Gripes aside, there is a lot to like about how Majestic Downfall go about their business. All their ingredients are well mixed to create a depressive death-doom journey, which is an easy sell for avid fans of the style. While an easy band to like, their is a slight deficiency of material on offer to truly love. The album’s exorbitant length makes for an exhausting, harrowing journey, but the despondent mood and shortage of traditional hooks doesn’t exactly lend itself to frequent replay value regarding the absorption of their heart and soul art the way it was intended. Tighter editing and more focused songwriting would have given the punch deserving of a higher rating. Nevertheless, Aorta is a pleasing soundtrack for gloomy moods with ample quality material to dive in and explore.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Personal Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 21st, 2021

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