Tzompantli – Tlazcaltiliztli
Reviewed: June 2022
Released: 2022, 20 Buck Spin
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
There is some real emotion on display with TLAZCALTILIZTLI, the debut full length from the almost as equally consonant laden Tzompantli. The brainchild of Xibalba’s Huey Itztekwanotl o))), the band takes its pulls their inspiration from Mesoamerican and indigenous native peoples of the Americas and culls it that history into a fiery invocation of death infused funeral doom.
Harkening back to the band’s own Mesoamerican roots, their moniker refers to a rack of skulls used to display those lost to battle or through sacrifice. And the album’s title refers to a ritual that translates to “nourishing the fire and sun with blood.” So yes – there’s a definitely an embedded sense of ancestry across the album’s 7 tracks along with a perpetually simmering rage. And that rage is interspersed with traditional native instrumentation and rhythms that feel a zillion times more genuine that whatever Max Cavalera was trying to do with ROOTS.
But no matter what your theme or inspiration is, an album is only as good as the songs it hosts, and these tunes are HEAVY. Each track on TLAZCALTILIZTLI hosts variations of contrastingly dreary melodies and increasingly hostile riffs that make for a wonderful cacophony of brutality and beauty. The cleaner passages on “Yaotiacahuanetzli” and the title track are as gut wrenchingly sorrowful as the heavier riffs are unforgivingly punishing. But then there’s the trance inducing “Eltequi”, a ritual of cutting open the chest and removing the heart as an offering. Anchored in waves of native instruments and atmospheric chanting, it creates a true sense of fear and respect as those traditional sounds clash with deafening power riffs.
Trying to describe in words what Tzompantli has accomplished with TLAZCALTILIZTLI feels like a fool’s errand (and yes, I’m that fool). This is the kind of album that you truly need to experience in order to fully understand how powerfully moving it can be. So I hope I’ve succeeded in at least piquing your curiosity to give Tzompantli at least an exploratory listen. A deceptively simple record that satisfies more than I’d ever anticipated it would, TLAZCALTILIZTLI is a worthy offering to the gods.