"The Blood Dance"

By Earthdog

'The Blood Dance' is a rawish yet well produced, big sounding record of quality but hang on...this is a one-man band, is it not? Well, one man and a session drummer. One man bands generally are not supposed to sound this good so I don't know what the secret is to Jacobo Córdova (Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards) and his Majestic Downfall death-doom project but whatever it is, he better keep it up and for other one-man bands out there reading this, you might want to listen to this to pick up some pointers. On the death-doom scale of things, the work of Cordova leans more towards the death-metal side of the fence with a sound that is like Draconian butting heads with Amon Amarth with the occasional interference from early Katatonia. Getting the death and the doom in just the right quantities is never a easy task but Majestic Downfall succeed in doing that remarkably well.

The guitar sound is abrasive, sometimes a little too raw and also a little loud in places overshadowing what the bass and drums are doing but it still seems to work as it gives the album a unique atmosphere. The album unleashes many passages of melancholic death-doom and normally the rawness would seem like a mis-match but it actually works wonders for these songs. The drums are slightly buried with mostly only the cymbals crashing and a piecing snare cutting through the sound. Again, normally that would be a big no-no but it gives this album an original vibe even though the songs are hardly breaking any new ground for the death-doom genre. They even manage to take the usual deathly growls to a unique place by pushing them into the background slightly and this is also something that makes this album interesting and kind of hypnotic.

Talking tunes and there isn't a real weak one to be heard. Even though most of the pieces range from 7 to 11 minutes in length, they add enough variations to the well-used death doom formula that it never has a moment of monotony. Right from the get-go the opening duo of 'The Blood Dance' and 'From Black to Dead' have a commanding presence. It has has the chugging riffing to make you nod the head but it is also oddly relaxing in its emotionally-charged approach. These songs are big on melodies and hooks but it also has a grimness to it that can match it with any atmospheric black-metal bands that are out there today. As the album plays on, it just seems to get better. 'Majestic Embrace.' 'Dimension Plague,' and 'Army of Salvation' are a trio of songs that are all energetic yet relaxed doomy onslaughts with equal amounts of sheer heaviness and raw emotion.

The album ends on three of the albums best tunes, 'An Untravelled Road,' 'Cronos' and 'On Silent Wings.' It is more of the same however so if you don't like what you have been hearing by this point in the album, you might as well hit stop and forget about it. 'The Blood Dance' is a surprisingly good album but it is not without its cracks and at times these cracks are of the earthquake variety. First up there are the guitar solos, some are good, some are very weak and sound very amateurish and sometimes, they just sound wrong. These moments I must admit are rare but they are cringe-worthy just the same. Even worse though is the growls. While the band has done the listener a great service by keeping the vocals down lower than what they usually are in this style of metal, at times they are just too over enthusiastic which makes it come off as kind of goofy and childish. Like the issues with the solos, these vocal flaws are rare but they are HUGE monumental clangers.

When it is all said and done though, you could do far worse than check this band and album out. Over the course of 64 minutes, there are some very good moments of death/doom crossover and these songs just keep on moving, developing and expanding so much that even the weak sections are quickly forgotten about. I just wonder how much better than the album would be though if they have done some fine tweaking to some of these tunes. Nevertheless, this is a mostly solid and enjoyable slice of death-doom that deserves to be on your "must-hear" list....8/10.