There’s no shortage of killer death metal bands in 2022 but finding ones with a new or fresh take on the genre is more rare. The Southern California death/doom outfit Tzompantli formed in 2019, releasing their first demo, Tlamanalli shortly after. They stayed quiet until last week, when they released their debut album, Tlazcaltiliztli.
Tzompantli—in Mesoamerican civilizations a rack to display the skulls of the conquered or sacrificed—is the work of guitarist and vocalist Huey Itztekwanotl o))) (Xibalba) and bassist G-Bone, plus session drummer Erol Erol Ulug (Teeth). On the new album, both play various native and folk instruments, which infuses a range of rarely-heard sounds into the music.
None of the aforementioned qualities are a gimmick, however. The songwriting on Tlazcaltiliztli is varied and potent. From the stompy fight riffs of the title track to the entrancing tribal doom of “Eltequi” to the massive death/doom of closer “Yaotiacahuanetzli,” Tzompantli serve up death metal that primitive in its riffs and potent in its delivery.
Tlazcaltiliztli was released last week on 20 Buck Spin. Listen below.