Salt Lake City Metal band Yaotl Mictlan take us on a savage journey with their third album, Sagrada Tierra del Jaguar.
The band is brothers Yaotl and Tlatecatl joined by Tenoch (according to The Metal Archives). The press release reveals: “The brothers shared a mutual passion around their Mexica and Mayan culture. Their lyrics focus on the belief that after Christians colonized Mexico, their people lost their identity and succumbed to a colonized way of life; the lyrics are inspired by the unfortunate way in which at the present time their people live in extreme self-hatred. Ultimately, they would like to see the end of the colonized way of thinking and for their people to embrace their roots.” Knowing the background and inspiration of the composers sometimes gives listeners additional insight into the music, thereby making it more impactful. I definitely think that is true in this case because the motivation is so powerful.
The music is extremely heavy, even with the gentle opening of “Entre lluvias Fuertes.” Well, gentle – I mean quiet, but it is very unsettling with eerie wind instruments and rattles, and voices in a lilting disembodied elemental frame. The first guitar riff drops about a minute and a half in and pushes you over as if you were made of dry reeds. When the vocals begin, you have started to become part of the object that is the layered, ambient, dark energy surrounding you everywhere and penetrating.
The music on the album has a living mysticism to it in sound and narrative, and a feeling of melancholy – and often hopelessness. In that sense it lies in the land of Doom Metal, but the feeling of it is more like Black Metal, or what I have heard called Dark Metal. And then there are rising moments of power and what might sound like hope, furthering the complexity of the music and the message.
The songs are typically riff heavy, with many, like “Ba’alche’o’ob” and “Tezcatlipoca – Espejo Relumbrante,” riding on driving, punishing percussion, and others, such as “Nuevo Fuego,” with long, ethereal moments surrounded by the rising walls of harsher sound. The closing song, “Sombra del Mictlan,” is the longest, running about eleven minutes and beginning with an invocation in voice and what sounds like a wooden flute. Doom riffs follow with harmonic whistles and rattles broadening the musical vista. It is an amazing piece. The heavy sound of Yaotl Mictlan truly is unique. Recommended.
Out now through American Line Productions and available through Bandcamp. If you are looking for something other than the digital, check out the band’s website at the link below for CDs and other merch. If you have never heard the band before, this album is a great place to start.
Band website, https://yaotlmictlan.com
Band Bandcamp, https://yaotlmictlan.bandcamp.com
Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/yaotlmictlanband
Label website, http://www.alprods.net
Label Big Cartel webstore, http://www.alprods.bigcartel.com