|Artwork by Robert Høyem|
If you have been paying attention the past few years, you'd understand why Donald Trump is not a fan of heavy metal. I mean, how can anyone say Mexico isn't sending us their best and brightest? He'd obviously recant this statement if he had heard Majestic Downfall's 2013 release, "Three" and last year's split with The Slow Death. And on that note, what has the Mexican Metal Authority (you know, the MMA, that government agency who 'decides' what metal bands are allowed to release albums across the border) have in store for us in 2015? Well, yet another 50 plus minutes of Majestic Downfall goodness, of course.
Now I'm sure there have been other bands that have released 3 albums 3 years in a row, but I challenge you to come up with any that are the sole responsibility of 1 man, and of this high quality. Frankly, I'm astounded. As good as Three was, last year's split was by far the best thing the band has ever done. I stated in my review that "Dark Lullaby" off that album was one of the best metal songs in the past decade. So to say the bar was set insanely high this time around would be a gross understatement.
Have they topped themselves yet again? Maybe, time will tell as the year goes on and I have even more time with this album. What I can say though is we have a worthy follow up to the feel and quality of last year's release. Think of this in terms of a movie sequel, it's very difficult to eclipse the original; there's a natural ceiling to just how awesome and amazing something can be. But this isn't merely a carbon copy of their past material or trying to repeat prior glories, quite the contrary.
The first thing you'll notice is the production has a less polished and much more live feel to it. It's far from raw but I can't help but think this was deliberately planned to coincide with the bands first ever live performances this year. So on that note it's a rather nice tie in. By the time the intro (and title track) "...When Dead" and the lead track "Escape My Thoughts" is through, you feel almost musically satiated with its roller coaster of death metal, doom and atmosphere. Frankly it's amazing how you can make a 15 minute song this interesting. "The Brick, the Concrete" ups the ante even more and rivals last years "Dark Lullaby" as best song of the year material. The main guitar riff and that tone, the rumbling of the bass, topped off by a great old school heavy metal/rock infused guitar solo.
I could go on and on but I think you get the point. As a reviewer you can fall into the trap of becoming numb with the amount of music you hear each and every month. That's why I genuinely appreciate when an album comes along and demands you to take notice. It's always easy to pine away for the old days and claim things were better in the 80's and 90's; Majestic Downfall has proven that metal is ageless and that regardless of time period there are always bands creating exceptional material.
[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]