XIBALBA - Ah Dzam Poop Ek 2LP
(Description by J. Campbell)
Originally released in 1994 on the legendary Guttural Records label, “Ah Dzam Poop Ek” is the debut album from Mexican black metal pioneers, Xibalba Itzaes. Formed in 1992 by two brothers in Mexico City, the band was originally called Xibalba, named after the Mayan underworld, where the gods of death dwell. Having sought out and studied heavy music since they were kids, the emergence of black metal in the late-1980s and early 1990s provided a catalyst for them to begin recording serious music of their own. Having witnessed the stagnation of death and thrash metal, “black metal was an injection of vitality into a music scene that was literally dead,” according to guitarist/vocalist Marco Ek Balam. Inspired by Quorthon’s veneration of his Viking ancestors, Xibalba turned to Mayan lore — especially the foretelling of civilization’s doom — for the concepts and aesthetics undergirding the project. The band’s poetic lyrical content, mostly written in Latin or English, is extraordinary, evincing a linguistic sophistication that distinguished Xibalba from many of their peers. Musically, too, Xibalba defy easy comparison. Though certainly heavily influenced by Bathory, Celtic Frost and Darkthrone, among others, Xibalba’s sound was unlike any of their contemporaries. The use of traditional Mexican instruments and the inclusion of two long ritualistic, trance-inducing instrumental tracks — particularly the 8 minute and 40 second “Bolontiku Vahom” — are traits that set Xibalba apart. However, even beyond those obvious distinctions, unconventional riffs abound on “Ah Dzam Poop Ek.” A seething, atavistic fury permeates the album, woven into its complex melodies and unpredictable song-structures. Out of print since 2007, this long-awaited reissue of Xibalba’s seminal album features an updated layout with a bronze foil-stamped jacket and new cover art.