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mercoledì 25 marzo 2015

Volahn - Aq'Ab'Al

#FOR FANS OF: Black Metal, Gorgoroth, Nargaroth
Sometimes you come across a band that based on sheer ingenuity and creativity alone it demands your attention, not just because of the general musicianship or talent involved but more for curiosity sake which is what’s going on here in these California-based Black Metal warriors’ second release. While on the surface it would seem to be a rudimentary raw Black Metal release, however a closer look at the bands’ efforts reveals them to be completely focused and intent on ancient Aztec society for both lyrical inspiration and sonic accents. A similar approach is taken with Nile and Ancient Egypt or Melechesh and Mesopotamia, and the results here are just as inviting since not only is it an untapped source of inspiration that makes the choice quite innovative but also because the subject matter is distinctly relevant to the music on hand with potentially scores of works to be created that delve deep into such sources. Mind you, all this doesn’t serve as a way to avoid mentioning the music on display for anyone with even basic knowledge of Aztec society knows that a vicious, violent attack is necessary to convey that society properly and it is delivered here in spades. Vicious, jagged tremolo-picked riff-work for the main attacks stand alongside ambient, atmospheric droning that accounts for more direct lyrical passages and sampled effects that clearly demonstrate this facet of their sound quite clearly with this making for a combined whole here in raw, blasting Black Metal with native touches and accents, which is topped off with wholly destructive drumming and rabid vocals. Finally, add in the ethereally keyboards into the appropriate sections and some fine spoken-word snippets that conveys their story rather well, overall this becomes quite a stellar package. True, the raw low-fi production here might be somewhat too harsh for those to take but that’s the way the game is played with this being no exception to that rule at all with the static hiss blaring through at several opportunities and the bass being non-existent to the point of it being questionable as for if it was even on the album to begin with. Still, this one isn’t all that bad at all as intro 'Najtir Ichik' starts this off immediately with scorching tremolo-picked riffing and furious drumming whipping through up-tempo passages with delirious melodies flowing through the blistering tempos full of violent, angular rhythms for a violent and dynamic but slightly overlong introduction. 'Halhi K'ohba' again features unrelenting drumming and furious blasting through a frenzied series of riffing with tremolo-styled rhythms and furious, blasting drum-work for a more chaotic, condensed and therefore more enjoyable effort, while 'Bonampak' gets more out of its swirling tremolo riffing with a strong series of raw-edged blasting and nimble rhythm variations that feature rabid pace changes and dynamic atmospherics into the chaos that makes for a surprisingly enjoyable epic offering. A slightly-more experimental take on their trademark sound, 'Quetzalcoatl' attempts to use melody in their riffing for the first time which is quite nice considering the raw production really does a number on this style of music, but the chaotic blasting, mournful wailing and ardent attempts at producing actual riffs make for another surprisingly enjoyable if somewhat overlong track. 'Koyopa' changes that up by being the album’s most intense and unrelenting track with raging drum-blasting and intense rhythms with the furious tremolo melodies flourishing in the chaos with an unrelenting charge throughout that makes for a truly nonstop assault and is the albums’ quintessential highlight piece. Somewhat expectedly, 'Nawalik' uses furious blasting and scorching guitar-work with technical melodic injections within the unrelenting frenzy of the drumming blasting for an appropriately cacophonic finish to this. For the most part, this one is just a tad too overlong at times as some of the arrangements could’ve been trimmed by a minute or two so it’s not wandering around so much but for the most part this is a thoroughly enjoyable, violent release just the way the Aztecs would’ve wanted it. (Don Anelli)

(Crepúsculo Negro - 2015)
Score: 85