TZOMPANTLI – Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force

May 31, 2024, a month ago

(20 Buck Spin)

Greg Pratt

Rating: 9.5

review black death tzompantili

TZOMPANTLI – Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force

Most anticipated death metal album of the year for me right here, Southern California's Tzompantli starting just as strong and terrifying as I knew they would with opener “Tetzahuitl”, grinding sideways then trawling through the sewers, but always with that extra flair that Tzompantli bring the table, the Indigenous folk instrumentation ramped up to 11, everything set to kill. 

The band brought together 11 musicians on this record to create these sounds, and while all this—and the Brujeria-nodding band photo—threaten to just be too much, it's not, it never feels anything less than totally real, and totally powerful. It's like Coffins with culture, or Hooded Menace covering Xibalba (whose Brian Ortiz is the mainman behind this band), these songs just getting heavier and more bare-bones (hello, beautiful pummel of “Tlayohualli”), death/doom taken to its peak, but with so much more emotion and depth behind it all (see the Indigenous instrumentation and singing of “Tlaloc Icuic” and “Chichimecatl”). 

The massive, eight-minute title track is a percussive juggernaut of Neurosis/Incantation proportions, album highlight, 2024 highlight; “Otlica Mictlan” explores concise blasting as well as wide-open, tortured, sludging death, both to perfection; closer “Icnocuicatl” takes the doom in death/doom to new depths, and the power is unreal. 

No exaggeration to call this one DM of a life-changing calibre, like Gorguts' Obscura, fully able to summon the spirits, move the mountains, and absolutely destroy and uplift the listener all at once. It's only May but I'm confident this—a rare 9.5/10—will be my album of the year.

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