Xibalba Itzaes - Ah Dzam Poop Ek
Now let's address the elephant in the room first. Yes, this album has the word "poop" in it's title. Apparently it is pronounced
as "pop" when spoken, however I was unable to find any reliable source on how to properly translate the album title. As a matter of fact
I don't even know which indigenous language the title is written in. Since the band self-describes the genre they are playing as
"Ancient Mayan Black Metal" I am going to assume it's a Mayan one. Well, enough about my ignorance, let's talk about the band.
I was particularly interested in this band after reading an interview with them and decided to check out their debut album "Ah Dzam Poop Ek". Mixing ancient mesoamerican topics with the grimness of black metal seems like it would match like bread and butter. Just thinking about it invokes a kind of atmosphere and it does seem to be the notch Xibalba Itzaes are trying to hit.
When I listened to the first track on the record, which oddly is the only track with lyrics in latin, making this a trilingual release, I immediately thought "Well, apparently a Darkthrone Tape has found it's way from Norway to these guys in Mexico City". Yeah, from the Fenriz style drumming to the Nocturno Culto style raspy voice, this really has a strong Darkthrone feel to it. A bit too much of it, in fact. This goes on with the second track "Vuch" and the third track "In Deamones Imperium". Don't get me wrong, it's good stuff and I am enjoying especially the third track. But my expectation to have a more distinct Mayan atmosphere from this release is a bit disappointed. After the fourth track, which is an instrumental one, the album segways into a synth intro part on the fifth track "Sag Ibteeloob Cab". Now heres a bit more of the atmosphere I was looking for. This track also includes my favorite lyrics on the album:
"As the full moon shines the sky up high,
As all the last tribes sing their songs in joy,
As unfathomable aeons embrace our past,
As immortality open wide his doors,
As all race open the gate of dullness,
As our clouds overcast their prose,
As all I glimpse is eternal darkness
And as I bury the fallacy of God"
Very moody. From here on, the album blooms up and diverges a bit from the norwegian copycatism into more of an own style.
Overall I must say I really enjoy the production on this one. It had just the right amount of rawness. The riffs are nice and evil and parts of this album really manage to conjure up images of an occult blood ritual in the depths of the Mexican jungle. I wish it would've leaned a bit more into the "Ancient Mayan" part sound-wise. Maybe include some Mayan instrument here and there? Anyway, this is an interesting band and an interesting and good release, something I'll come back from time to time.