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Xibalba - Ah Dzam Poop Ek
Review: Swimming in its own energy, the music of Xibalba using a constant interplay between the rudiments of percussion in an economy jazz style to balance riffs moving frequently from lower tones to higher tones at increasing speeds of tremelo strum conditions an undulating pattern of perceptual interference into which it is easy to fall and from whose evil seduction escape is difficult. The intent is poplike and involved in the deepest avantgarde of conditioning the mind away from everyday stimulus toward a more basic rhythm and survival instinct.
Afloat in reverb a lone vocal calls skipping cadences across an alternating lower beat and rising internal dialogue of percussion that matches riff texture and tonal mood to create scenario in song, here maximized in two-theme conflicts which reflect the flavor of an action more than its direction, purity or logic. The resulting depth of subconscious tapestry both assaults the moralistic symbolic conditioning of our perceptual processing and evacuates the simplest parts of consciousness from the war zone. Sweeping waltzlike rhythms follow languid melodies in fluid currents of change as songs remove themselves from initial locales to distance into the obscure and self-reflexive. Cyclic in motion like muscles contracting and relaxing songs are short and express their content mostly through form, which in its carefree drift and sullen morbidity lurking under ascendent phrases moving focus ascendently from points of dissonance, through concept and melodic shaping resembles the Romantic poetry of southern Europe.
Comparison to Darkthrone of the Panzerfaust and especially Total Death eras combined is inevitable with awareness of similarity in drumming style, riff composition and vocal aesthetics (heavy echo and Fenriz-style fading shrieks of initial flare and massive decay) yet this release has mellowed the Darkthrone focus into something closer to uniform which brings out the satisfaction in alienation that marked later work from the Norwegian band. Melodic overtones complementing consonant directional passages in a style Total Death touched are here influential. Xibalba as emerging from a different climate bring a new kind of escapism and a resurgent energy to the styling and compositionally achieve nowhere near the distinction of the upper level Norse bands, but for a survey of compositional skill and listenability this album crushes the second wave of modern black metal from Europe and the United States.
Kept at a travelling lightness to enforce the virulent rhythms of this work, instrumentation reflects the demands of the style and trims excess in favor of unceasing energy to channel consistency into background which encloses the small but significant changes introduced to structure each song. Of note beyond general form are adaptivity of rhythmic sense through percussion and the expert emulation and synthesis of several black metal styles in vocals. While this album does not aim for the progressive, it excites the link between the droning styles of Darkthrone or Ildjarn and the lengthier majestic melodies of Summoning or Burzum, creating in a mood changing slowly like the shape of a tree in the wind an atmospheric cryptic icon ensured a place on the shelves of metalheads.