originally written by Jim Brandon
One of the toughest battles I’ve faced as a reviewer isn’t just the obvious writer’s block, or even burnout; it’s cynicism. I make it a point to give any band the benefit of the doubt as far as their authenticity goes, and when a group is comprised of musicians who are obviously huge fans of the same types of music they themselves play, the tunes always seem to exude an extra bit of fearless self-assuredness that remains secure even when throwing in a few creative twists. In the case of Mexico’s recharged Hacavitz, Metztli Obscura is a major step in the right direction after the humdrum Katun, and as ugly and primal as the cover art would seem to suggest, their primary concern isn’t attempting to constantly remind and impresses us with how evil they are. The proof lies within their multi-dimensional songwriting, and Hell just can’t keep from tagging along for the ride.
What I found to be appealing on their full-length 2005 debut Venganza is also present here; it’s that same virtually inseparable tangling of deranged black metal elements with the lethally sharp death/thrash of Angelcorpse, and all of it is bound tightly in chords of early Slayer, Destruction, and Sepultura. Harmonies appear in discordant abundance and dominate with catchy, infectious disarray, exhibiting a wealth of snaky power and ripping speed. I can’t help but wish the production was pumped up just a few notches in order to properly allow this album to show its ravenous teeth since Hacavitz certainly do not go light on the plethora of sinister, angular melodies which would have really popped with a beefier mix. Even so, blastfests such as “To Meet Again” and “Hablan los Muertos” temper their speed with jangling clean notes wafting slightly above the chaos, but when they launch into tracks like “Most Unclean” with a reckless abandon and unmitigated rage you can hear a progressive side come out by way of understated complexity in the drumming, and the slow and steady layering of “Cauitl Glalticpac” vividly shows Hacavitz in a thoughtful, almost savagely sophisticated light.
Despite the almost dapper execution of these nine well-crafted tunes, Metztli Obscura is not an album for amateurs, or the casual Hot Topic fan. This appeals to a very specific type of listener who appreciates a bit of class with his abuse, but nonetheless desires abuse more than anything, and I’m thoroughly impressed by how reinvigorated drummer Oscar Garcia sounds, and by how much passion and fire Antimo Buonnano has put into his mangled vocal delivery. It’s great to witness how focused and simultaneously mysterious Hacavitz has become, and how they’ve taken a classic sound and actually intensified it without needing to reinvent or deconstruct anything, but if the leap they’ve taken since Katun is any indication of what this band is capable of, the potential for future mass devastation is extremely high. This won’t change the world, but it sure the hell should shake it up a little bit, and as far a mid-year releases go, it looks like the summer just got a lot hotter, and albums like this help keep the cynic in me far at bay.