You’re standing in a dank cave or somewhere on the plains, with the spirit of your ancestors overcoming you with inspiration and power. Your blood rushes, your rage wells inside of you, and the art you are about to create not only is there to topple the world but also pay homage to those who paved the path before you, their fires still raging in your heart.
California-based black metal warriors Blue Hummingbird on the Left (their name is the translation of the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli) encompass that organic, open-veined style of black metal, as they’ve paid homage to their Mexican heritage, along with many other members of the Black Twilight Circle, of which they’re a member. On their thunderous debut “Atl Tlachinolli,” the quartet pours fiery war-ravaged black metal, mind-altering echoed cries (vocals lines often sound like they bounce off walls, sending reverberations into each other), and primitive drive into these nine songs that not only stand apart from much of what the BTC put together but also explode past what so many other black metal artists are doing. The band—vocalist/flautist Tlacaelel, guitarist Yecpaocelotl, guitarist/drummer Yayauhqui, and bassist Coapahsolpol—also play in other bands including Axeman, Volahn, Xaxamatza, and Kallathon, and here they spread their fire and energy over these songs that easily can enrapture and stun you.
“Blood Flower” starts the record with a blast as riffs charge and carve into the earth, while the growls echo as they do throughout, with Tlacaelel wailing, “Slowly I climb towards the sun,” with his singing taking on a Lemmy-style vibe. “Sun/War Club” has tribal drumming, traditional Aztec instrumentation, and wild hoots that spark chaos before the riffs crumble, and the vocals tear into your chest. The pace is sweltering and dizzying, with the howls blasting through the wilderness, crazed calls reverberating, and the guitars crying out. “Precious Death” stomps heavily, with mind-warping vocals barreling, and a heat-inducing tempo before things cool off a bit, with melodies splashing, guitars chewing flesh, and everything swelling to an abrupt end. “Hail Huitzilopochtli” wails praise for the band’s namesake, as it’s fast, punishing, and thrashy, with the vocals twisting, rhythmic pounding leading the way, and chants of, “To him we pray! All hail! All hail!” before it smashes closed.
“Rain Campaign” has a ritualistic start, with drums encircling, shakers conjuring spirits, and wild roars unleashing spirits before riffs arrive and topple, and the drumming dusts bones. The track is heavy, crushing, and rousing, as Tlacaelel howls, “Tonight, we will learn what is hell!” as the track blazes into the abyss. “Tenochtitlan” has guitars blinding before the slow-driving pace gets the war boiling, as the vocals bounce off the cave walls. Riffs shift into a tornado, as your brain wiring is twisted, and the song comes to a crunching close. “Life Death Rebirth” also gets to work quickly, with the guitars bringing force and weird wails chilling flesh. The drums pulverize, while the guitars revel in madness, with the track coming to a gurgling, vicious end. “Storm” certainly sounds like one, with the ferocity lashing away and the guitars swimming in atmosphere. A strange feeling works its way into the mix, leaving you clutching for the walls for control and the track eventually halting before the song comes to a drilling finish. “Southern Rules Supreme – Moon” closes the album with guitars ramping up, wild cries echoing and entangling, and whistles calling out and haunting. The vocals stun the senses, as the track races toward oblivion, and the drums deliver the final blows.
Blue Hummingbird on the Left, like many members of the BTC, take great pride in their heritage and take up arms, albeit artistic ones, over those who would dare trample them, the essence of which is all over “Atl Tlachinolli.” The band’s brand of black metal prepares for war to preserve their history, and every fiber of this record is packed with their fighting spirit. This band and record also make sounds most black metal bands wouldn’t tempt, making them that much more enthralling.
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