Xibalba Itzaes Credit: Rod Moreno

Mexico City black-metal band Xibalba Itzaes started out in the early 90s. The word xibalba means “the place of fear,” or the underworld, in Mayan culture, and like their contemporaries Brujeria, they take occult cosmology of traditional Mexican magic as their foundation, but they also delve deep into indigenous spiritual history. Xibalba Itzaes released one brilliant full-length, Ah Dzam Poop Ek (which has lyrics in English and Latin), in 1994, and despite sporadically released limited-edition splits and singles throughout the next two decades, the group went dormant enough for two bands (one from California, the other from Baltimore) to snag the name Xibalba for themselves. The new Ah Tza Xibalba Itzaes is the first full-length from Xibalba Itzaes in nearly a quarter century. It’s razor sharp and incisive, and though its sound is still rooted in Mayan iconography, the band mixes a Scandinavian feel into their blasting. Though indigenous metal musicians drawing on indigenous themes have soldiered on in younger up-and-coming bands such as Mexico’s Tezcatlipoca (Aztec metal with lyrics in Nahuatl), it’s so good to have these progenitors back in force again.   v

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