Volahn - Aq'ab'al (Iron Bonehead/The Ajna Offensive/Crepusculo Negro)

Open your mind...
Release Date: 
9 Jan 2015 - 12:30am

Volahn continues to proudly wear his Aztec ancestry on his sleeve with Aq'ab'al, an album of rare beauty if one hath but the wit to penetrate it. As a founder of the Black Twilight Circle, you're pretty much guaranteed some damned interesting black metal stylings and Volahn doesn't disappoint. From the sprawling, disjointed (though subsequent listens will remedy this) opener Najtir Ichik I was totally sucked in by the album. Strings of melodies whirl and wheel about and the drums are blistering - yet despite the contemporary nature of this stuff, there are definite echoes of traditional black metal here.

You get hushed whispered sections and moments when all the madness drops away, leaving a glittering piece of acoustic guitar or indigenous flute. Indeed, Volahn's work is littered with these utterly mellow sections that are reminiscent of flamenco guitar (though I wouldn't dare to call them so) and what I believe may well be huilacapitztli (Google tells me it is so...) conjuring jungles and jaguars and all manner of powerful mythos.

The entire album shows the spirit of black metal (or perhaps the bones of it?) fleshed out with Voluhn's vision and take on the genre. You get the spasmodic runs on the guitar and blasting (see Halhi Khoba) but you also get these wonderful moments of restraint, as shown by the majestic style of Bonampak. It's black metal put thourgh Volahn's unique filter, and I'm massively impressed. Despite there being only six tracks on here (and most of them push past the seven and eight minute mark), there's no trace of flabbiness and the album's duration is spot on. The tracks are definitely enhanced by Volahn's heritage with the Aztec influences and the black metal balanced exceptionally well - neither overwhelms the other - and I'm loving it. A sweet start to 2015, I say.