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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Xibalba - Ah Dzam Poop Ek [Nuclear War Now! Productions - 2021]

It's no secret that the most common/recognized  form of 1990ís black metal comes from Scandinavia, though there were more than a few interesting flourishes all around the world. One such location is Mexico, where Xibalba appeared in 1992, giving their fairly distinctive take on the BM form.  Here from  Nuclear War Now! Productions we have  a double LP reissue of the  bands legendary 1994 debut Ah Dzam Poop Ek, with some split tracks from the same period as a bonus

The two-piece project began by putting out work with the 1992 demo In Lucescitae Tristis Hiei . Then, in 1994, the Mexican label Guttural Records released the first Xibalba full-length album Ah Dzam Poop Ek. After this, they released another demo and split album with Avzhia, then fell silent for almost 10 years. In 2007, the group became active under the name Xibalba Itzaes, apparently in order to avoid confusion with several groups of the same name. In total, Xibalba's discography takes two full-length albums, three demo-recordings, one EP, one single and one compilation.
 
For this reissue, the album art has been completely updated. The original cover featured a full moon with a Mexican pyramid in the background. The new cover features a photo of two members of the band, dressed in leather clothes and with makeup on their faces. The musicians are sitting on the parapets of the stairs of the ancient pyramid. At the top of the cover is the group's logo made in a kind of fusion-style - Gothic letters are combined with elements typical for Native American culture. At the bottom of the cover is the title of the album in the same gothic script. The colour of the logo and album title imitate bronze. In my opinion, the new cover is more interesting and atmospheric than the original cover. As well as nicely reflecting the thematic focus of the group. Also, it is noticeable that the photo was taken more than twenty years ago, which evokes some nostalgia and adjusts to a certain mood.
 
 
The album slides in around the hour mark, and consists of twelve tracks. The first nine tracks are from the original album, and the last three tracks are taken from the Avzhia split album. To be honest, I heard the original album back in the mid-nineties. The re-release contains the original sound and mix, which is a big advantage for me personally, considering that the original sound of the album is very good. Despite the obvious dampness and lack of polish, the sound here is quite clean and all the instrumental parts and vocals can be perfectly heard. The main distinguishing feature  is the meeting of black metal and ethnic instrumental tones, which are most strongly felt in the instrumental tracks. Also the ethnic percussion instruments and their corresponding melodies play the main role in these compositions. Guitars play rather a background role here. By ear, this mix is perceived quite easily and originally. There are some touches of darkness and evil here, but mainly it's the feeling of grim ethnic mystery that stands out the most. The full songs, performed in the traditional black metal style, are classic version of the style characteristic of the early nineties. With the most obvious comparisons been early Mayhem or Darkthrone, with some elements of early Thrash metal mixed in for good measure
 
In my opinion, Ah Dzam Poop Ek is an excellent example not only of early black metal but of the genre in general. I felt somewhat underwhelmed by the bonus tracks from the Avzhia split-they sound dirtier and rougher, somewhat missing the magic of the album's material- but they certainly donít dilute too much from the impact of Ah Dzam Poop Ek. In finishing, I recommend this album for all fans of black metal form, as well as to those who are just starting to get acquainted with this genre- as itís a great second wave entry to the genre.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Sergey Pakhomov
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