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Surprise, really big surprise… These words can easily describe the feelings and excitements when I found out the information about resurrection of Mexican Xipe Totec on this page. To be honest: their first record called “Prehispanic Beg” (1998) is still something unique in my huge metal collection. Ten extremely superb death metal compositions plus intro and outro full of prehispanic instruments, but especially three of them are just pearls of music: “Tzompantli”, “Prehispanic Beg” and “Tonacayutl Tomio”. I can’t forget about it, I am under the impression while listening to this stuff all the time. My review is written on the page, the mark is almost ultimate. Almost… When I had seen the title of the new Xipe Totec performance, I thought about Desultory. Yes, this Swedish beast returned with absolutely great recording after many years of physical oblivion. Both bands are my treasures, so I started to wonder about musical content of “Eztlacuani”. I wasn’t skeptical, rather I was just curious. What will the future bring? Is there any chance to hear spectacular and unforgettable sounds of death metal? I was sure one thing: fortunately the subject matter didn’t change. The band is still submerged in the Aztec world, in their deeds and beliefs. The front cover assures the blood will flow undeniably…
To start writing some wise words about it and make it sincere to my metal heart, one important thing has to be declared. The cult of Xipe Totec deity wandered to Mexica land from Tlapanecs living in Tzapotlan, Guerrero. Also Zapotecs were worshippers of this idol, so everything wasn’t regional. Xipe Totec called “our lord the flayed one” was a god of spring and new vegetation, he wore a skin from human victim as a symbol of a new “layer” that covered the Earth in the time of spring. And I slowly get to the heart of the matter, namely I can see this Mexican band like new greenery on the spring after very long time of nonexistence, just like a new corn-cob which will be yielding the heavy crops. The comparison is exact here, Martin Martinez and Alex Camacho had sowed the grain and procured the beautiful and strong corn that stands proudly before my eyes…
All right, let’s write something about musical content. I always will be comparing this new effort to “Prehispanic Beg” and some facts must be written: Xipe Totec now is completely different band, yet it is still deeply rooted in the underground. The only member from the dark past is Martin and he is responsible for all instruments and songwriting. The second important thing: the realization and production. Here is the next surprise, because I can hear normal and standard yet proper and real sounds! No artificiality, no plastic, no falsehood, just fresh, enjoyable music, even if there is a little step back into the mighty 80/90 years, it is very seldom to find nowadays such a fine realization! The guitar sound is ‘slimy’ a bit, classic drums, Alex vocals and prehispanic instruments, everything is served in very good proportions, but bass lines are rather hidden behind guitar works. So, this is the first good point of “Eztlacuani”, but the realization of sound is nothing when the music sucks. Now, after many words of necessary introduction, I can write that these two Mexicans recorded a masterpiece! MASTERPIECE!!! I know this is very common phrase, however it is the only word which describes “Eztlacuani” in a perfect way. It is hard to believe but Martin and Alex beat the previous “Prehispanic Beg”! Listening to the album, it is very easy to forget about the years of nothingness, I am witness of return in real glory, and as you probably suspect, the mark will be… Yes, it will be maximal!
The album consists of ten gory songs plus three instrumentals. Each song has incredibly masterful level enriched by unique catchy sounds. The situation is quite different as compared with previous work. The great power is in all songs, the entirety which I call eminent and remarkable metal of death. All stuff is composed by one person Martin Martinez, he is the man who created these anthems for Xipe Totec. Lyrics are written in nahuatl (spoken by the Aztecs), indigenous language of Mesoamerica. Vocals of Alex Camacho are some combination of many vokills in death metal, I find here some influences of Corpsegrinder, A. Camargo and M. Marzari of Rebaelliun. Of course, there is no cheap imitation, ‘animal’ growls are mixed with bestial screams sometimes, Alex uses his throat just very good, yet his vocal is rather clear and audible. What a pity the lyrics are not included in the booklet… All right, let’s dive into “Eztlacuani” (which means ‘bloodthirsty’ in English) world. The first song called “Aca Ihuitl”, as the great opener, causes total astonishment. On the spur of the moment this Mexican machine attacks with murderous drums blasts, frantic guitar lead, hard, massive riffs and vokills of Alex. And when the song reaches thirty second, prehispanic instruments enter the stage in the storm of sounds. This time it is a kind of flute, but later there are rattle-boxes, tambours, teponaztli and palos de lluvia, all mixed perfectly, so once again I have to glorify Martin for such great using of these instruments, some totally unknown for me. “Aca Ihuitl” goes on, I admire next masterly solo leads, blasts and some slow-downs. On the end tempo changes a bit due to very interesting part of guitars which makes this track a real brilliant metal performance. What is interesting this is the longest (circa 4:40) track of “Eztlacuani”. And one thing is sure: Xipe Totec returned in eternal glory as I wrote earlier, the first song is the best example. The next one called “Huel Ontlami In Teix, Inteyollo” is nothing new, it is like a touch of perfection, the song is full of splendid guitar leads displays, it is opened by not so fast riffs and drums, some marching tempo and using of flutes… I wonder here if there is a sense to write about each song, when I think “Eztlacuani” I deal with one of the best death metal ever recorded, and the following Xipe Totec breaths are just another bricks in the wall. Of course this sentence also refers to three instrumental tracks (number four, eight and eleven) full of indigenous instruments mentioned just above. I call them as a soundtrack to tlacaxipehualiztli (flaying of men) which was a ceremony for Xipe Totec. Sounds coming to my ears and mind are hypnotic, full of trance, madness and unspeakable horror. These three tracks are really helpful to feel the atmosphere of bloody solemnities. The blood was the mortar to build new lives. And these two Mexicans, Martin and Alex, revived the spirit of these memorable days, which is the next huge advantage in my opinion.
To sum all the things up I have to declare that Xipe Totec recorded death metal album. This fact is unquestionable. Now we have 2012 and there is very difficult to show original effort. And when I thought about some metal influences, Nile and some representants of Brazilian death metal (Krisiun, Rebaelliun) came into my head because of extreme intensity and brutality of music. Even if I found some similar tunes which remind me of the mighty debut album of Crypt Of Kerberos (“World Of Myths”) in solo leads in tracks “Timocalaquis In Tzonhuazo In Mecac” and “Ezapan”, and Dissection (“Storm of The Light’s Bane” era) parts of guitars in the title closing song (listen carefully from 1:30, pay attention also on blackish Alex screams). But most empatically I can declare that Xipe Totec beats these bands. Why? I will try to explain it. For me “Eztlacuani” is personal (!) music which can be consumed and interpreted individually, for sure it makes me draw my own pictures and visions, this is the soul side, but when I refer to music itself, I get rather short, concise songs with soul and no-machine feelings, everything is bathed in prehispanic times which I like most. Even if I think that Martin is a kind of virtuoso, I do not call this album as ‘technical’ or something like that because “Eztlacuani” is filled with passion and beating heart, no (!) artificial sounds can be found here, just death metal fury, unique dismaying atmosphere and history. To put it simply, I have never even dreamt about resurrection of Xipe Totec, so word ‘surprise’ is a matter of course. But the bigger surprise is the quality of “Eztlacuani” and its freshness. Being a huge fan of Mexican death metal scene, I can frankly write that this album stands proudly amongst the best performances of The Chasm (“Conjuration Of The Spectral Empire” and “Farseeing The Paranormal Abysm”) and Mictlan “Donde Habitan Los Muertos”. Beyond all question “Eztlacuani” became a classic METAL album in my collection. The band also informed about another album in 2012. I think it will be a real test for the musicians. It is always easy to record a weak album, and it is always very hard to maintain the masterly level of the previous one. So, Martin and Alex have to face a really difficult task, but I believe that they are able to create another masterpiece of death metal. With strong faith I close my tired eyes and fly straight to the Mexica land…