Aztlan - Legión Mexica review



Reviewer:
N/A

18 users:
7.56
Band: Aztlan
Album: Legión Mexica
Release date: January 2021


01. Sangre Por Sangre
02. La Raza
03. Raíces
04. Ritual
05. Legión Mexica
06. Día De Muertos
07. Colibrí Del Sur
08. Tlalocan
09. Mictlán


How do you reconcile folk metal's increasing need for some innovation with how Latin American bands had a growing tendency to showcase their cultural roots? Easy: Aztlan.

Aztlan are a Mexican (if that wasn't obvious from the album title) band, and even though I'm not precisely sure how many people are in the band, my estimates from what I've gathered from pics is between 6 and 9 (no pun intended). So this Mayan/Aztec/Olmec Slipknot* is performing a mix of Mexican folk music and metal, and they thankfully have mostly the lineup in common with Slipknot. I do not speak Spanish so I do not know exactly how edgy the lyrics are, but as far as the music goes, both the metal parts, the folk parts, and how they integrate, is pretty damn great.

I mentioned the "metal" parts and the "folk" parts, but I think that's not a useful way of looking at things, due to how inseparable Aztlan make them to be here. The vocals are the most obviously metal part of the sound, sitting pretty comfortably on the raspier death metal sides of things, with backing vocals that sometimes accentuate their impact, but never really diverging much from what you could hear in a thrashy death metal band. But other than that, the most usual elements of a metal band: the distorted guitars, the pounding bass, the blasting drums? They're the exception not the rule.

For the most part, the instrumentation is a very maximalist wall-of-sound of acoustic folk elements who capture the power of what would usually be a metal rhythm section through sheer quantity of sound. Think of Botanist or Kaatayra in terms of using acoustic folk as metal instrumentation. Sure, electric guitars and the like do appear sporadically through Legion Mexica, but either it's a guitar solo taking the lead, or it's only there to enforce the folk melodies. And as far as melodies are concerned, this thing is pretty melodious with a lot of dynamic songwriting despite lots of it following a lot of death/thrash tropes. Which is a pretty welcome change from all the war metal stuff that has become the norm for Latin American (especially Mexican) blends of extreme metal and folk, in the wake of movements like Crepusculo Negro.

Of course, I can't not mention that Legion Mexica, just like Aztlan's debut from 2019, Mexico Immortal, is really fucking long, at a few seconds shy of being 80 minutes. Does Legion Mexica have enough worthwhile material for 80 continuous minutes? No. Does it do a better job at it than its predecessor? Absolutely. So I think they got the sound just about right, and now they only need to focus on packaging it a bit more compactly, and also to take their finger off the "Caps Lock" button.



*Mr. Doctor came up with this joke and asked for credits. I delivered.


 



Written on 17.01.2021 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 7   Visited by: 67 users
17.01.2021 - 19:07
Mr. Doctor
Skandino
I'll copy the sentiments of Nikarg's comment on the album thread. This album is fucking long but when you focus on it you realize there are not really boring moments. Every section feels individually great and necessary for each track. I'm starting to think this is a case of "too much of a good thing" rather than a band that really needs to trim off the fat too much. The marriage of sounds work really well for them specially with the production that puts a lot of emphasis on the acoustic section yet still feels very metal just like with Botanist and Kaatayra, as you mentioned.

I'm really digging this new influx of bands incorporating folk instrumentation in a LOUD and powerful way that does emulate the metal sound nicely. I'm already going to call this one of the top folk metal albums of 2021 for sure. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.
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Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
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17.01.2021 - 19:13
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Mr. Doctor on 17.01.2021 at 19:07

I'll copy the sentiments of Nikarg's comment on the album thread. This album is fucking long but when you focus on it you realize there are not really boring moments. Every section feels individually great and necessary for each track. I'm starting to think this is a case of "too much of a good thing" rather than a band that really needs to trim off the fat too much. The marriage of sounds work really well for them specially with the production that puts a lot of emphasis on the acoustic section yet still feels very metal just like with Botanist and Kaatayra, as you mentioned.

I'm really digging this new influx of bands incorporating folk instrumentation in a LOUD and powerful way that does emulate the metal sound nicely. I'm already going to call this one of the top folk metal albums of 2021 for sure. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Wouldn't mind a 50 minutes version of this sound, but they do a pretty good job of filling that runtime. I did still find a few "awkward" moments, so there are still a few gaps in the songwriting, that maybe some more cutting might fix.

But damn, I loved the sound even more on further listens, even if I felt it was a bit underwhelming on the first one.
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Jusqu'ici, tout va bien...

2021 goodies
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17.01.2021 - 19:17
Mr. Doctor
Skandino
Written by RaduP on 17.01.2021 at 19:13
But damn, I loved the sound even more on further listens, even if I felt it was a bit underwhelming on the first one.

A grower of an album for sure. I can see some future listenings in the future specially due to the length. One half every now and then.
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Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
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18.01.2021 - 20:46
Ellrohir
Heaven Knight
I am definitely going to listen to this, the embedded song sounds awesome.

Many years ago I discovered Kukulcan as an example of "mexican flavored" metal and I liked it, but the guys seem to be NBSM (or at least hanging with other NBSM bands)
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My rest seems now calm and deep
Finally I got my dead man sleep


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18.01.2021 - 20:50
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Ellrohir on 18.01.2021 at 20:46

Many years ago I discovered Kukulcan as an example of "mexican flavored" metal and I liked it, but the guys seem to be NBSM (or at least hanging with other NBSM bands)

Seems like it. A common light of this type of sound. Maquahuitl falls in the same category.
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Jusqu'ici, tout va bien...

2021 goodies
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19.01.2021 - 15:22
Fallen Ghost
Craft Beer Geek
This was very different and original sounding. Not sure if I like it. Heavy metal acoustic guitars! Btw, that album cover reminded me of Sabaton - The Art of War.

EDIT: Actually listened through a couple of times now because it is so weird and interesting. Liking it more now, even though as the reviewer says, it has some awkward moments.
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27.01.2021 - 14:21
DeliciousDishes
annoying
This sound is pretty fucking amazing and kind of what I really have been searching for when it comes to folk metal. Kind of like folk punk, but metal? Really nice.

I also immediately thought about Slipknot when I saw the band photo on MS, glad it's basically nothing like them. I agree the album is just too long, but I wouldn't know what to cut either, as every song seems worthwhile and always keeps my interest. I actually really like how they're so maximalist with the instrumentation 90% of the time, this wall of sound really is never done much in this folk sphere.
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You are the hammer, I am the nail
building a house in the fire on the hill
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