Home > Music > Xibalba – Ah Dzam Poop Ek (1994)

Xibalba – Ah Dzam Poop Ek (1994)

Xibalba-Ah-Dzam-Poop-Ek-cover.jpg

Nowadays probably known as “Xibalba Itzaes” in most regions due to the efforts of a recently formed and similarly named American band, this band was… most likely influenced by contemporary Norwegian black metal, at least on an instrumental technique and aesthetic level; they even wore the trademarked corpsepaint at times. Nothing new there; Xibalba’s selling gimmick is presumably their influence from Mexican (particularly Mayan) mythology. Toss out the folk interludes and locally sourced instrumentation and it might not be so obvious, but the band’s ability to incorporate this sort of thing without overwhelming the rest of their formula is certainly a sign of skill, and part of what drew me to listen to this one in the first place.

P.S: Part of it was also the title. My sense of humor, as I’ve said before, is so refined and classy that it drinks champagne out of a monocle.

Leaving such sophomoric humor aside, Ah Dzam Poop Ek‘s music arguably takes after Darkthrone and other sorts of trebly, blasty, but not particularly fast or violent black metal bands. In its more basic moments, that substyle often directly resembles an exaggeration of its own influences (’80s “first wave” black metal, earlier atmosphere oriented death metal), although Xibalba isn’t always that direct, since they are after all a generation further removed from that style. Outside of their folk traditions, Xibalba doesn’t add anything to the formula, but they importantly know how to write coherent black metal. There are some exceptions – the lead in track (“Furor Antiquus”) doesn’t really capture the band’s strengths; it comes off as undeveloped for having about the same density of ideas as the rest of the songs unnecessarily stretched out. There’s also the 9 minute potato chip munching interlude towards the end (“Bolontiku Vahom”), which might make you hungry not only for salty snacks, but also some variation – Xibalba doesn’t drone well, although to be fair, it is difficult to pull off well.

Ah Dzam Poop Ek‘s strengths and weaknesses are cloned from its influences, for better or worse. When Xibalba shows some restraint, they write strong, dynamic black metal with a good ear for melody and song structure. They even pull off some of the more subtle strengths of their idols at times, like vocal variance; that’s a sign of careful study. Unfortunately, Xibalba wasn’t able to follow up on this material with more at the time; they released a short split in 1996 and the tracks from that are usually stapled to the end of this album, but that’s about it until very recently. Still, this album is definitely a local/regional landmark, and it holds up well in comparison to the works of more famous circles.

Highlights: “In Daemones Imperium”, “Sac Ibteeloob Cab”, “Sign of Eastern War”

 

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  1. 2016/04/30 at 22:49

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