Tzompantli use doom, death to pay homage to indigenous tribes, people on debut ‘Tlazcaltiliztli’

Photo by Elena Chute

The treatment of native and indigenous people on the North American content has been hideous at best, something that barely was taught in school as I was growing and took me into college before some of those layers were peeled back. We still have one quite descpicable holiday and another that’s laughable at best that goes to show time hasn’t smartened everyone, and wounds remain open.

California-based maulers Tzompantli are a force that will not let native history lie still, and they pay fiery and emotional remembrance on their combustible debut full-length album “Tlazcaltiliztli.” The band—vocalist/guitarist Huey Itztekwanotl o))) (also of Xibalba and Mortuary Punishment) and bassist G-Bone—took their name from a rack used to display skull of enemies or sacrifices, and the album title is from a ritual ceremony that nourishes the fire and sun with blood. This record is deep with bludgeoning doom and death metal with native and folk instruments used to conjure a proper aura for this offering to people and tribes of every directional reach of this entire continent.

“Yaohuehuetl” is a quick instrumental intro cut with drums echoing, whistles wailing, and an ambiance being achieved before working into “Tlatzintilli” that begins cleanly and hazy. The pace drives slowly while the vocals add thick menace, and then everything ignites, doom fire raging with life. The growls lurch as the pace burns in place, heavy atmosphere fills your head, and clean lines hypnotize, leaving your mind in a vortex. “Tlazcaltiliztli” starts with muddy guitars and the growls scraping the earth, leaving crunched bones behind in a pile. Wild howls deliver bloody hell that is right at your heels, and the bludgeoning and mauling peak before ending in a pile of ash.

“Eltequi” begins with drums encircling, woodwinds generating a ghostly aura. The chants explode, the acoustics rush, and a spirited haze sweeps you up, bringing blackened rains and muck, this instrumental piece ending in the dirt. “Ohtlatocopailcahualuztli” moves in with wafting guitars before the playing unloads, the heaviness increasing by the second. The growls hammer away, and then a brief respite moves in, allowing a sense of relief until the guitars detonate and move into a soaking mist before meeting with the horizon. “Tlamanalli” is guttural with the growls crushing necks and a black metal-style assault moving forward, streaking with darkness. A brief cavernous section leads to more skullduggery, slow-driving and furious playing increases the bruising, and the final moments are pounded into stone. Closer “Yaotiacahuanetzli” slowly dawns as doom sprawls, the storm thickens, and everything comes apart, slashing away as your skeletal structure. Guitars cut through the murk as the heat becomes impossible to survive, sorrowful leads drag blood across the sky, and then everything dissolves into the distance, its spirit inhabiting the earth.

Tzompantli have a grim inspiration for their name, but one that pays homage to their ancestry and native/indigenous themes that make up their DNA. The songs on “Tlazcaltiliztli” are for their people and nation who have made up every part of the American continent and whose blood and bone are forever a part of our land mass. Their death and doom mix is mighty, bloody, and the perfect way to tribute those who paved the way for this duo and millions of people history often tries to forget.

For more on the band, go here:

To buy the album, go here:

For more on the label, go here: