Review: Majestic Downfall “Aorta” [Personal Records]

Review: Majestic Downfall “Aorta” [Personal Records]

- in Reviews
Score 70%
Summary
Long-winded lamentations
70 %
User Rating : 4.8 (1 votes)
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Although I’m pretty fond of Majestic Downfall, I should admit that they’re a strange band to my ears. On one hand, they’ve certainly improved over time, as the first two albums had little to care for. On the other hand, Majestic Downfall has yet to release something seriously great – Aorta is now the sixth album of this band and while it clearly sounds passionate, I have a serious hard time sitting through this thing.

My initial reaction of “Roberta” was positive at first, as it seemed to function as an emotional juggernaut of a track that had several surprises in store, but over time my excitement started to wear off… and perhaps rightfully so. Its first half still feels like an incredible draining journey, as its themes range from bitter melancholy to restrained anger, thanks to the majestic barks, howls and cries of the vocalist. Not only does this he inject the right amount of life into these sections, but he’s never over-selling a certain line. Riffs remain physically heavy and flexible, yet emotional weight remains present; a variety of sorrowful single-noted melodies alternate with thick waves of tremolo bits – the latter also provides a sense of alertness and variation from the tune’s usual dirge-like tempos. Unfortunately, the second half of the track sounds extremely lackluster and you can basically hear at which point Majestic Downfall ran out of inspiration. Indeed, what could have been a welcoming nine minute opener eventually turns into an overlong track where some rejected lead-driven sections of Waters of Fate appear out of the blue. It’s a shame, because it shows that Aorta occasionally manages to conjure a vortex of negativity that I love to experience from doom/death metal.

It should be noted that Aorta isn’t a rehash of the Majestic Downfall’s earlier albums however and it seems that the band has reached out for several different inspiration sources this time, even if the results are mixed. “A Dying Crown” almost expressing itself like a hybrid between recent works of Hooded Menace, Nightfell and The Ruins of Beverast, as this crushing, yet colorful doom/death track monolith stands grand and tall. Here the vocals become more gruff and “evil”, not unlike those of Alexander von Meilenwald and hearing them bark over the Exuvia-esque drum passages and stomping riff-work was a welcoming, if unexpected surprise. As a finish touch, a carefully-picked guitar solo in between sounds like it was lifted straight away from the aforementioned Finns… great stuff. Somewhat easier to refer to, “Become Eternal” has My Dying Bride’s haunting characteristics all over the place, but My Dying Bride never sounded this confused. In Majestic Downfall’s case, the songwriting feels very clumsy here – you end up with a collection of solid riffs scattered all over the place, but even once the tune shows promise several times, things never seriously kick off. Examples would be dramatic buildup of classy riffs that follows up with pointless acoustic interludes, or that memorable lead interaction that gets interrupted by pointless acoustic interludes – I think you get the point. So, next time that anyone claims that good riffs mean you’ve got a proper tune written down, just refer to this track – they’ll surely change their mind I bet. That said, I at least I enjoy the upbeat ending, where the rousing leads scream to the sky as if the two guitarists express their relief that this frustrating test of patience is finally over.

Aorta just isn’t the huge step forward that I wish it would be and regardless of the traps doom/death metal can usually fall into, pacing isn’t an issue either. The title track is another intensified song, not unlike that of “Roberta”, but this slow-moving pounder actually works better, as Majestic Downfall reveal their emotional baggage gradually instead of cramping too many ideas in one tune. While Aorta certainly has its moments of glory, some serious re-arrangements are still required until Majestic will deliver the real deal.

Release date: May 21st, 2021

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