Monday, September 10, 2012

Tenochtitlan - Сотворение Мира

Tenochtitlan is a collaborative tribal metal project between a number of prolific Russian musicians, most notably Lefthander and Senmuth. This, their fourth full-length album, was officially released in July of this year. I had a pretty good idea what to expect going into this, since I have been following both this band and some of the other material by the musicians involved for the past couple of years.

For those of you to whom the term "tribal metal" is mysterious, it's an informal designation which refers to folk metal rooted in Native American folk music, traditions, and themes.

Tenochtitlan, like much of the material from the pseudo-scene of which it is a part, is highly experimental and very electronic sounding. It features heavy use of synthesized instrumentation and electronic sampling. The result is less organic than the more primitive tribal metal which emerges from South and Central America, but the compositions are much more complex than is typical within this relatively small niche, too.

The root metal structure of the music is built on chugging, bass-heavy guitar work which is usually fairly slow paced. The drumming is typically slow, booming, and spacious. Often, soft ambient patches are scattered throughout portions of the relatively lengthy songs. The sounds of numerous traditional instruments are woven into the richly textured tracks, with the hauntingly melodious pan pipes being especially noteworthy.

The vocals fall into a wide range of styles, from artificially distorted shouting to guttural death growls to clean chanting and wailing. Three different members contribute to the vocal work, so the variety has obvious roots. It works very well within the context of this material, since the music frequently changes pace and requires adaptive vocal accompaniment.

If you're not familiar with this band or anything by the associated musicians, it's hard to provide a good point of reference to anything similar within the metal world. If you like to expand your horizons, though, I strongly recommend giving this a whirl.

Grade: B+
A unique blend of Native American themes, electronic experimentation, and isolated Russian musicianship.

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