Tzompantli – Beating the Drums of Ancestral Force

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California-based death-doom formation Tzompantli portray the Aztec mythology and language on the sophomore record 'Beating the Drums of Ancestral Force' out via 20 Buck Spin since 17th May 2024. The new album sees them perfecting their craft and sounding a lot heavier than the first full-length album 'Tlazcaltiliztli'. The songs here turned out to be bolstered by mid-paced riffing with bulldozing drums and deep guttural growls.

Summoning the ancient spirits of their ancestors, these natives have recruited a slew of members to deliver a profound sound of pure old-school brutality combined with heavy death metal doom riffs. Each of the seven cuts delivers its own metallic, cavernous and turbulent drum beats and displays also a range of traditional folk instruments.

At the onset of the opening track, ‘Tetzahuitl’ begins with a dose of sludge doom metal riffs, the breakdowns are crucial as they stir up the tempo and there is a sense of groove with the drums sounding heavy. The pounding beats of the drums and the bass guitar make the whole sound vibrate, seemingly recharging the vibe at the climax of the crushing riffs. Despite the simple formula Tzompantli managed to channel some infectious morbid doom metal.

For instance, the guitars on ‘Tlayohualli’ are ushered by creepy growls and grunts; the riffs shred the skin while the rhythm section is full hooks the lead guitars imbue dark melancholy undercurrent melodies sweeping slowly. On the album the respected members amassed an astonishing scale of brutality. The band also offers some varied songwriting with the monolithic riffs shifting the dynamics of the songs and these slow brooding riffs are inescapable.

Tlaloc Icuic’ explores new sonic grounds. The album’s title suggests the earth-shaking turmoil of an experience and the music has an instrumental quality that conjures up bloody ritualistic images. Tzompantli plods on a different path on the sophomore record: the songs are well-structured and have more depth. There is a lot to like here from a personal point of view.

The band lures you slowly as you fall into the abyss unknowingly before the heaviness of riffing engulfs the listener on the next song ‘Chichimecatl’ which picks up the pace slowly amid the atmospheric sludge riffs exuding many different sounds and blending the aggression with sludge doom twists. The crushing drums reflect a cavernous doom spectrum and ominous atmosphere that paints its horror, the riffs and blast beats alternating between slow sections backed with a powerful wall of sound. Some hints are borrowed from bands like Disembowelment.

The tribal drums become your nightmare on the eight-minute mammoth track ‘Tetzaviztli’ which offers some rapid percussive beating upon the guitar strings. The track builds on a slow intro with a grinding percussing rhythm setting fabulous contrasts in sounds. The inclusion of these instruments is mixed perfectly. Heavy distortion and demonic soundscapes of outer realms manifest on this track, with the striking tremolos layered with a full drumming attack as blast beats, and double bass are followed by deep torturous grunts.

Through enormous doom-laden riffs aggravated by powerful drums, Tzompantli pushes its sound beyond the sounds of monotony. The album sounds monstrous and the songwriting atmosphere creates another element of memorability. The tracks are built on the album’s theme and they are devoid of melodies. The tempo of the drums and the guitars are perfectly juxtaposed. On “Otlica Mictlan” the music delves into the ominous realms of death doom metal. The drumming is fast and crushing. This is a four minutes of soul sickening malice.

The scale of brutality is well-balanced. The display of tremolos is another bold element that adds to the rumbling beating of the drums, creating dark apocalyptic visions of red skies and torn corpses that freeze the senses whenever the chord-laden hooks echo slowly the tempo to a monolithic closure. The longest track ‘Icnocuicatl’ is nine minutes long and awakens the dreamer to the nightmare realm of horror and reflects the morbid atmosphere of slow doom-laden riffs in the moments of ambiance here.

Ethereal vocals and deep guttural growls reverberate with the slow march of the plodding drums, riffs are ridiculously catchy and full of hooks. These moments tend to be everlasting as they remind us how Tzompantli reached the creative and effective soul-crushing doom metal style on their sophomore. This is an outstanding work from these natives who have delivered an unsettling set of brutal death doom metal songs, a well-inspired music full of darkness and morbidity.


  • Vocals / Lyrics 9/10
  • Mix / Production 9/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 8/10
  • Originality 9/10

‘Beating the Drums of Ancestral Force’ is without a doubt a massive record and well-executed from the start of the album. Each track delivers plenty of memorable doom melodies and comes highly recommended for fans of Disembowelment, Mortiferum and Spectral Voice.

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