AZTLAN - Legion Mexica

Aztlan - Legion Mexica

9 songs
79:49 minutes
***** ****
Metal Inside

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I admit that I liked folk metal in its early days. The refreshing combination of heaviness and folk danceability was quite unique at first. Over the years, alas, the movement grew stale and predictable. This doesnít mean though that all folk metal nowadays has to be boring. There are still bands that use folk music from regions whose music hasnít been plundered to death in the metal genre.

One such band is Aztlan from Mexico, who combine their own brawny kind of death thrash metal with Mexican folk music. One of the band members even plays pre-Hispanic instruments, giving the whole endeavour a very unique flavour. The musicians also dress up like human skeletons, with creepy make-up, to add even quite a lot of spookiness to their outlandish sound concoction. What also stands out is the fact that the nine songs on Legion Mexica make it to eighty minutes of music. Dia De Muertos is at five minutes the shortest track, while the title track makes it to twelve and the concluding Mictlan even to eighteen minutes. And yet their songs canít be considered progressive metal, but rather sequences of ideas that are strung together to tell their strange stories.

The album begins with Sangre Por Sangre, a nine-minute stomper with a fast and catchy melody played on some kind of mouth harp. The vocals are ultra-brutal, and although my Spanish is hardly developed, I guess the lyrics are mostly dealing with injustices that have happened to the Mexican people since Europeans colonised their continent, and with mythological topics of their ancestral home. Other highlights are Raices, a folk metal piece with a moving trumpet melody, and the sprawling title track which again manages to combine the bandís authentic folk sensibilities with their abrasive metal sound.

Of course one can possibly complain a little that some songs might have worked just as well or even better, had they been a little shorter. But whenever Aztlan tape into their greatness, they come up with unbeatable folk death thrash metal that no other band could top. This is something different, and should be recommended to folk metal fans, but maybe even more to those that grew bored with the genre. Aztlan show that there is still life left in the vast ocean of folk metal hybrids.

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