Indigenous Week Day 6: Cemican – In Ohtli Teoyohtica In Miquiztli

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Artist: Cemican

Release Title: In Ohtli Teoyohtica In Miquiztli

Release Date: 23 August 2019

Label: M-Theory Audio

Location: Guadalajara, Mexico

Digital Price: 8 USD

Length: 58min 30s

Cemican is a band inspired by the mythology and history of old, pre-Columbian Aztec society, themes present in all of their albums, including their 2019 release In Ohtli Teoyohtica In Miquiztli which I present to you today. Founded in 2008 by drummer/percussionist Tlipoca and guitarist/vocalist Tecuhtli, their name is taken from the indigenous language Nahuatl which was spoken by the Aztecs. Despite the best efforts of the Spanish, Nahuatl is still spoken and used by nearly two million people to this day. The word ‘cemican’ represents the duality of life and death, which is fitting because the band re-enacts ancient battles, dances, and religious ceremonies (yes, even sacrifices). Their ancestors, in death, are given new life again by the tributes, music and storytelling of what is an excellent metal band fusing indigenous Mexican sounds and ideas with death, thrash and progressive metal.

With their brilliant videos, stage performances and music, they certainly earnt their place at festivals like Hellfest and even Wacken Open Air, the holy land of metal. Once you listen to In Ohtli Teoyohtica In Miquiztli, you’ll understand why they have gained the following they have. You’ll be immersed in the sounds and atmosphere of a bygone era instantly as the sounds of battle cries and war drums echo through the jungle. The Guerreros de Cemican have arrived with a track that includes traditional wind instruments and occasionally, Nahuatl lyrics. There’s such an intensity, with crunchy riffs, hearty growls, and a heavier sound than Cemican have ever had. There’s something about the way Cemican walks the like between thrash, death and prog that almost reminds me of Testament, but then they also have really prominent wind instruments which aren’t just simple window dressing. You might have Testament fans loving this, but I’m sure that fans of bands like Einherjer and Finntroll would like this album too.

Something I do love about this release is that Cemican makes sure every member of the band, every instrument, gets their moment in the sun. In a way, if you look at the lineup of the band and how almost every member plays a wind instrument in addition to other duties, it makes sense that they would all be given time to shine. But it’s not just that. Tecuhtli’s pounding guitarwork drives us forward, from classic thrashy riffage to some technical but accessible soloing. Tlipoca’s percussion duties get plenty of moments, from a multitude of little drum fill windows to drum-forward mixed sections of tracks, to the way we hear lots of other little elements like hand drums. In Ritual there’s some great bass work featured a bit more prominently, and it’s really a delight to hear – I wish I could have seen Ocelotl (bassist) recording because it sounds like he was having a lot of fun doing it.

In Ohtli Teoyohtica in Miquiztli is a hell of an album by Cemican. Despite the fact it’s almost an hour long, there is nothing superfluous here at all. There is some nice variety across all twelve tracks, to the extent that Diosa De Todos Los Dioses isn’t even a metal track. It’s more of a short and atmospheric folk ballad, but with all the traditional percussion and some eerie vocals and death rattles that we hear, it remains an essential track. Atemaxaque is very wind instrument heavy, and there’s a great variety in the way these instruments are played, from the sounds of battle to the sounds of birds. Of course, after each of these tracks we’re thrusted back into the brutality of battle and sacrifice with tracks like Tzitzimime (Danza De Los Huesos) and El Respiro De La Tierra (Tlatecuhtli). The way these two tracks rock, it’s no wonder Cemican made it to Wacken. Whatever you do this week, give this release a listen.

I hope you enjoy In Ohtli Teoyohtica In Miquiztli.

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