Majestic Downfall – The Dance of the DeadSunday, 31st March 2013
(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)
One-man projects and sub-standard production jobs are like conjoined twins – they’re virtually inescapable from one another. A lot of the blame lies with the mid-00’s influx of singular black metal bands, who preferred their albums to sound like they were recorded through a Magnavox boom box. If we want to go back even further, good ‘ole Varg Vikernes made sure that Burzum’s early output was recorded with the shittiest equipment possible, thus ensuring that his odes to Valhalla (and Socialist renderings) didn’t have the slightest sheen. So when you take into account the albums that preceded Mexico’s Majestic Downfall’s The Blood Dance, it’s as if mainman Jacobo Cordova threw out the manual on one-man recording projects. Good thing he did, for The Blood Danceis totally savory and pristine-sounding.
Doom death is the name of Cordova’s game with Majestic Downfall, and his reliance on chilling, mid-90’s Katatonia melodies is one to behold, especially when the weighty “From Black To Dead” (the 6:43 to 7:01 portion of this song is simply gut-wrenching) and “Cronos” unfold into beauteous, yet desolate opuses. The Blood Dance is truly a robust affair, with the bulk of the songs pushing over the 8-minute mark, chalk-full of Cordova’s mournful guitar musings and from-the-depths bellows, and it’s one of the year’s early must-haves. In an effort to keep the praise a-comin’, we tracked down Cordova (who also is a part of Mexican death mongers Zombification) for a round of questions. Here’s how the lone ranger of Mexican doom/death responded :
Blistering.com: Give us a little background as to how you started Majestic Downfall, and the steps you’ve taken since the release of Temple of Guilt.
Jacobo Córdova: Majestic Downfall started in 2007 after more than three-to-four years without touching an instrument. I had played in a doom/death band in Mexico for 10 years and suddenly the magic went away and I decided to quit and put my bass to rest. Time passed and when I moved to Dallas after being offered a job, I started to feel the urge to compose again. I was able to buy a small portable studio and from there on I haven´t stopped composing. Metal is my life and eventually had to come back.
After the release of Temple of Guilt in 2009, I took some time off from Majestic Downfall and composed the second album of my thrash/death metal project Ticket To Hell and recorded it. Then I went to compose the debut album of Zombiefication, my death metal band and also went into the studio with it. After being done with these two albums, the urge to compose a new Majestic Downfall album came and that is when The Blood Dance started to take shape and form. The Blood Dance was composed in two months and finally released in Europe in June and now in the Americas.
Blistering.com: What led you to go the solo route and do everything yourself with Majestic Downfall?
Córdova: After being in bands for many years and realizing that not everyone in a band should have the same weight when it comes to composition and decisions, I decided to go my own way. If I had wanted to go back to composing in 2007 with an actual band, I would surely have dropped the towel soon. Fortunately with technology, I was able to go my way and do the things just as I imagined them. Bands are like an office, each member has a different role than the other, unfortunately if it is not that way, failure is close. Some people have to let go and be aware of who is better for what. This doesn´t happen anymore and I guess that is why I am still doing this with so much heart and conviction. No one tells me what to do and I am completely free of all the decisions. Of course I can fuck up sometimes, but in the end, I am the only one to blame. On the other hand, it is sometimes hard, ‘cause when you run out of ideas it can get frustrating and I mean it big time. Also covering band expenses by one is a very hard part of it.
Blistering.com: Describe the amount of work that goes into putting an album together by yourself?
Córdova: The most important thing that you need to have when putting an album by yourself is discipline. You have to have continuity when it comes to the creating and recording process, otherwise it can take forever and all the magic is gone. When I write an album, I wake up every day at 5.15 am and go to my little home studio and start throwing ideas. I spend two hours a day without any kind of contact and focus purely on the music and what I want to achieve with it. At the same time, I have to start visualizing what art can go with the music, as well as vocals and all in between.
I do my demos and from there everything starts taking shape and form. Many ideas come to mind fast, others take forever and some start one way and end up completely different. Also a lot of stuff is thrown to the trash. You have to be very selective when coming with final ideas especially if you are one. After the demos are finished, I send them to my drummer, he learns the songs and when he is ready, we go to record the album in a proper way. This is basically it.
Blistering.com: Are you aware of your own limitations? If so, how do you work around them?
Córdova: The only way to deal with my limitations is with hard work and discipline as I mentioned before. Some of my limitations come when I repeat ideas that I have used in the past. I work very hard on evading this by incorporating all the time new influences and feelings to the music. It is harder being one member in this department, but at the same time better, it all comes from a big masterplan and not a chunk of ideas. Another of my limitations is playing live, I don´t have the time at the moment to work with musicians and take this to the stage. Hopefully I will do it in the near future.
Blistering.com: How does your work with Majestic Downfall compare to what you do with Zombiefication?
Córdova: You tell me ha-ha. It is completely different. Majestic Downfall is doom/dark metal heavily influenced by Celestial Season, (old) Katatonia, (old) Anathema, Phlebotomized, (Old) The Gathering, etc, and Zombiefication is pure death metal raised on Aztec bloodshed. Majestic Downfall´s production is clear and polished and Zombiefication is extremely raw and brutal. I think that gives our readers a very good idea of the main differences. Oh, and I could also mention that in Zombiefication, I am in charge of all the music, while in Majestic Downfall I do everything, so I could say MD is more personal and the Zombie more a work between me and Mr. Hitch.
Blistering.com: There’s an obvious jump in sound-quality from Temple of Guilt to The Blood Dance. How much of this is a credit to your own doing?
Córdova: Temple Of Guilt was recorded, mixed and mastered at Inzonic Music Lab and The Blood Dance was a bit different. Drums, vocals and final mixing/mastering were done at Revolution Studios while guitars and bass were done at Inzonic Music Lab. This mixture of studios proved to be very effective for the band. On whether this is my credit or no, I can only say that all the people involved worked extremely great and the result was excellent.
Blistering.com: Describe some of your influences, for it’s clear that you’re cut from the same cloth as early Katatonia, Morgion, etc.
Córdova: Indeed! Those are two bands I love, especially Katatonia and their first two releases. As I mentioned before the first releases of bands like Anathema, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Celestial Season, Saturnus and many have surely paid their dues in my music. In the new albums you can also hear some Forgotten Tomb and Shining influences going on. Still I must say, that I think the Majestic Downfall sound is one of a kind.
Blistering.com: As for The Blood Dance, describe the state of mind you were in while recording. Some of the songs like “From Black to Dead” and “Majestic Embrace” are truly depressive sounding.
Córdova: The only true way for me to express my feelings is through music, it has become natural for me to do it this way. Majestic Downfall let´s me get all my frustration out and you can really hear the things that torment me through the music I create. You will never hear a happy song from the band. Letting my broken feelings and frustrations through music keeps me sane and is a true catharsis to live the everyday life.
Blistering.com: What type of lyrical themes run through the album?
Córdova: I mainly focus on personal themes, that I don´t really like talking about and human disgust. We humans have become so selfish that it truly is a pity to see where we are heading, and the worst part is that we are not even doing anything about it. We are the worst animal of all. If you ask me, a very vast theme to talk about.
Blistering.com: How much of an influence do your surroundings play when writing?
Córdova: Surroundings are the most important influence in my music. I just let my compositions take me where my daily life guides me too. Each Majestic Downfall album will be picture of the things I was living when writing that record.
Blistering.com: Are you at all involved with the Mexican metal scene?
Córdova: I like being involved in the Mexican metal scene, which if I must say hopefully will be bigger as it was in the 90´s when we ruled in the underground. For this to happen bands, labels and promoters, need to work harder, way harder.
Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on the agenda for 2012?
Córdova: Right now I am finishing recording the third Majestic Downfall full CD which right now has no title. This album shall be released sometime in the year, expect some new influences, but at the same time that Majestic Downfall experience. Zombiefication will release its new EP, Reaper´s Consecration, in CD format by Pulverised Records and the LP by Chaos Records in no more than 2 months. At the same time, I shall be entering the studio with Zombiefication to record the new album. All music is written and just being polished as we speak. As you can see, the metal keeps flowing.