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Tenochtitlan : Cotbpehne Mnpa

Want a cheap trip to ancient Mexico? Tenochtitlan leads the way.

In a world that is always more competitive, where supply is overabundant, the small producer has to find new niche markets, develop new and innovative services. Targeting a specific audience by marketing new engaging concepts should help your business not only to stay afloat, but to grow!!

It seems that capitalist mantra has managed to find its way through the most underground layers of popular culture. See Ahab and their 'Nautical Funeral Doom', see Ea and their 'lost civilisation-forgotten language' sticker, see Nile and their 'Egyptian' Death Metal, see Sleestak using the TV series "Land of the Lost" as a strong vehicle for nostalgia (nostalgia sells), see the wave of all the modern-proto Rock Doom bands – also known as the Vest Metal Scene: they have been smart enough to summon all the cheapest 70's occult gimmicks and create a real hype. You have to be different. Do your own, never-heard-before stuff. Ideas over talent. Ideas are talent some would reply… well…no, too easy.

Okay, all that precedes is of course meant to be slightly ironic. A tongue-in-cheek introduction to what I still perceive as a 'smart oddity': Tenochtitlan isn't a Mexican band as you might have been tempted to guess, they're Russian but all their musical themes are based on a kind of antique Mexican folklore – the one you can only picture in fantasy, as it sounds more Hollywoodian than Pre-Columbian, to be honest. The framework is Death Doom: growls, crushing guitars, an overall ominous atmosphere. The setting is somewhat familiar but it it only serves as fundament for a whole different building: it is an Aztec city that the band organizes; complex, vast, powerful, threatening, towering high over the wild surrounding landscape.

To achieve that evocative picture, the band makes use of various exotic instruments that, I must say, are unheard-of in the Doom genre, and I don't think they've been much used elsewhere either. Now, you'll rightly want to know what those instruments are. I have to tell the truth: the booklet is in Russian, I don't read Russian; I didn't find any useful info on that subject, I even tried to type the words printed in the booklet using a cyrillic alphabet in the hope I could have them translated by some software, but it seems the characters weren't all available! In that situation, I won't venture to guess; I can definitely say there's flute, a lot of it, maybe Pan flute? Of course, the band largely rests on the keyboard to set the 'Pre-Columbian' background moods. That concept has an immediate effect on their personal vision of Doom: it sounds very 'totalitarian'. In the same manner as you imagine the Aztec, Inca or whatever local civilisation, it releases a savage energy, a feeling of 'supremacy' hardly tempered by mournful weeping guitar leads and gentle folky lines. The intro of 'Похороны Монтесумы' for example is very cinematic, somewhere between Gibson's Apocalypto, Milius' Conan the Barbarian, Herzog's Aguirre (Tenochtitlan's effective use of instrumentals makes me think of Popol Vuh, for that matter), it takes you to actually SEE that archaic world right before your eyes. Choirs, gong, tom-tom, epic soaring keyboard chords, and that overall somber pride that underlies the album from beginning to end.

The vocal work is often conceived as a duet: a harsh barking growl and a weird semi-chanting clean male voice where the two singers' lines intertwine for a strange mesmerizing effect. The growls are often used as a brutal counterpoint to the exotic music like on 'Цветок Иш-Чель', where furious blasting Metal passages are brutally interrupted by gently bouncing folky instrumentals.

The album has its flaws: it can be too repetitive and some moments, like the majority of 'Сокол и Змей', recycle the same patterns over and over again. But on the whole, this is an enjoyable trip with enough exciting rhythm ideas to recommend it as an original work, an interesting diversion from the usual Death Doom album. Its soul might be a bit artificial, but at the end of the day, when you don't feel bored after the fourth spin, it means there's some quality in it. Check it out for yourself.

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Тлальтекутли
2. Начало
3. Сокол и Змей
4. Нуаль
5. Похороны Монтесумы
6. Цветок Иш-Чель

Duration : Approx. 45 minutes

Visit the Tenochtitlan bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-09-22 by Bertrand Marchal
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