Tzompantli – Beating the Drums of Ancestral Force

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Beating the Drums of Ancestral Force takes the listener on a journey into both the brutality and horror as well as a the majesty of the Aztec Empire. They take you there with a unique style of death doom that draws in elements of OSDM and cavernous atmospheric death metal. I need to impress upon you just how goddamn heavy this album is and how this heaviness is amplified by how menacing and eerie the album can be at times. This is an easy contender for my AOTY list and its going to take a lot to know it off. From commanding vocals, feral barks and war chants to crushing guitar, folk instruments and more do not miss Beating the Drums of Ancestral Force.

Artist: Tzompantli
Album: Beating the Drums of Ancestral Force
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Release Date: May 17, 2024
Location: Pomona, CA, United States

Written by James Sweetlove

You see an album cover with an Aztec Warrior on the front and you hit play, yes you do, you hit play. Once you hit play though you keep that shit playing, because its some of the heaviest and most menacing music that you’ve heard in a minute. Then once you finish the album you come back to it several more times because its so good that you can’t stop playing it. Is that really a surprise though having come out on 20 Buck Spin, a label with a spotless track record and an ear for quality music.

Beating the Drums of Ancestral Force takes the listener on a journey into both the brutality and horror as well as a the majesty of the Aztec Empire. They take you there with a unique style of death doom that draws in elements of OSDM and cavernous atmospheric death metal. I need to impress upon you just how goddamn heavy this album is and how this heaviness is amplified by how menacing and eerie the album can be at times. There’s also a sort of lurching, lumbering feeling to the music that makes it feel like an almost unstoppable force slowly creeping towards the listener out of the darkness of the cave from whence it emerged.

I’m aware that I’ve used a lot of metaphors and colourful language thus far in describing the album, so I’ll get down to the nitty gritty. The guitar work on the release presents with a variety of different tones, ranging from a heavily downtuned doom death sound to a filthier, crunchier OSDM sound. These are paired with a mixture of slow crushing and fast paced more biting and yet more melodic riffs. Adding depth and a large amount of additional weight to the music are the bass elements. However, its the drum work on the album that really ties the instrumentals together, leading the paced changes between the slower and angrier segments of each track.

The vocals on the album are crushing and while having a huge amount of power to them present with a truly atmospheric quality to them. They give us everything from deep gutturals and OSDM style howls to rabid barks and bestial howls, mixed in with this is a refreshing shouted style as well as some haunting clean singing with a mystical quality to it. I also have to say just how much I love the “OUGHs” and “EUGHs that we are occasionally graced with, Tom W would be proud. Accompanying these vocals are traditional folk elements and the occasional war chant that really helps to drive home the album’s theme and truly immerse the listener.

This was my first introduction to the band and what an impression they made on me. I plan to follow them very closely, because trust me you won’t want to miss what they do next. This is an easy contender for my AOTY list and its going to take a lot to know it off. If you enjoy death metal in any capacity do yourself a favour and give this album a couple of listens.




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