Volahn – Aq’ab’al: A Mind’s Journey

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15:01 – Upon taking the first sip of the concoction prepared for me, the palate is awash with complex earthy flavours. An affront to the senses, the merger of the aroma and taste is unusual, unlike the common flavours I’m accustomed to. I hand the ceremonial carved-wood vessel back to the shaman. Within what feels like mere seconds, the profuse salivation sets in. The eyes, while able to remain open at will, feel that closed is their preferred and somehow natural state. They roll back accordingly. It is then, the odyssey begins.

[Skip back to track 1 to begin]

The mind arrives at the bank of a running estuary. Green surrounds, the sky practically eclipsed in a dense and verdant collage. Pieces overlapping gracefully, but with an abstract structure. Warm mist glides overhead, further breaking up the imperfect arrangements, drifting amidst and seemingly diffusing through the leaves. A series of primal drumming patterns beat within my mind, ostensibly pulsating in time with the jungle’s perpetual breath. The mist condenses atop the leaves, gradually pooling in their undulating margins until the weight overcomes them, dropping beside me. A single droplet bursts on the golden cap of a nearby mushroom, dislodging a myriad of spores which will eventually colonise the lands. Meanwhile, the seeds sown by the sounds continue to take root deeper and deeper in my mind.

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Running through the lush forest, not in fear but in search, hearing the odd crush of fallen detritus underfoot. Lithe. Aware. The newly unfurled fronds of bracken ferns soften the impact of each stride, gently crumpling and returning to their position among the undergrowth. The water flows alongside, almost in perfect timing with my strides. Occassionally faltering around rocky outcrops popping up amid the stream. The majority of the liquid keeps its path though, allowing the small swirling vorticies time to rejoin the torrent, for the time being. I continue questing forth.

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Aside my makeshift path, many other creatures abound, each on their own quest, struggling against the elements in a pervasive urgency. The brilliant blue lapis lazuli colour of a poison dart frog catches my peripheral vision, I turn just in time to see it be snatched up by the spring of a once coiled viper. Death usurping death. The sounds of the water gushing reach a crescendo. As I slow my pace, the canopy ahead gives way to a brilliant sunlit sky, filled with shades of yellow and blue. The river drops off the edge of the horizon, crashing onto rocks below. There are placid pools along the edges of the main watercourse, their still sheets of aquamarine mirror all that falls upon them. I glance down into the closest pond and stare into the reflection of my eyes.

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The haze lifts, I open my eyes and instinctively glance at my watch. 15:59. Just under an hour has passed since I spiralled out. Even though it felt like the best part of a day was spent in the mind’s eye, I still feel refreshed. While not all of the journey is able to be recalled, there were some poignant moments which are especially memorable.


For those of you who don’t like my attempted allegories, meagre metaphors and stupid symbolism, I’ll give you a brief run-down of the album Aq’Ab’Al by Volahn. This record from the Crepusculo Negro figureheads has been on constant rotation for me since its release in January 2015, and for good reason. The unprecedented blend of pre-Columbian meso-American themes with the raw yet rich psychedelic-tinged black metal sounds is incredible. The album was only available for purchase by physical means until recently so after tossing up for several months on what to do, I decided I had to fork out for the delivery to Australia, only for the album to become available for digital purchase on bandcamp on THE VERY DAY my delivery arrived. But you know what, I’m really glad I did get the physical copy because the album art and lyrics are amazing. If you have an affinity for the traditional art of pre-classical civilisations, then get Cassette, CD or Vinyl. While not extensive, it is quite intricate and certainly adds more flavour to the already vivid album.

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Since the album’s release earlier this year, it is worth mentioning that Volahn spearheaded a compilation album released by Crepusculo Negro titled Desert Dances and Serpent Sermons. Their track is just over 10 minutes of what they describe as “western black metal”, which is perfectly apt. The sounds are what I’d imagine Quentin Tarantino would have liked to employ if he had directed Apocalypto instead of Mel Gibson. Don’t let my name-dropping of two questionable famous people stop you from clicking play below, I will buy this compilation too. It’s only available physically now by the looks of it, but don’t fret; it will become available digitally the day after I click “Pay Now”.

4.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

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  • ┼yree

    Crepusculo Negro has some sick stuff! I much prefer Eduardo Ramírez’s other projects more than Volahn; bands like Dolorvotre and Muknal. Muknal is so fucking good! That demo is insane. Plus it has Austin Delgadillo from the mighty Tukaaria on vokills!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnrK0K76S_w

  • COAL ROLL

    this is fucking horrible man….what a mess. Flush

  • COAL ROLL

    Track off the compilation….Giddey up partner

  • I remember digging this when it was released, but totally forgot about it. Thanks for bringing it up and reminding me!

  • ┼yree
    • RJA

      not familiar with hellvetron – nexul has just the one ep right?

      • ┼yree

        Yup, and that demo rips!!! Glad I was able to snag the 7″. hellvetron is good if you like doomy death metal. All three of these bands are basically the same people.

        • RJA

          Yea the Nexul 7″ is pretty nice. I can’t keep track of some of these guys – “this is my black metal band, this is my war metal band, this is my death metal band, this is my death metal with doom influences band” shit gets complicated.

          • ┼yree

            Too much. I try my best to keep up.

          • RJA

            I don’t know how THEY keep up!

  • Dubs

    I honestly had missed out on this until now. It was fortuitous that someone in the FB group compared it to a Mexican Krallice. Great review and sweet tunes.

    • 100% PURE BLACKBEARD

      I wish Ygg Huur would have made my eoty lists. It is a gud album

      • Dubs

        There’s still time to change your wicked ways.

        • 100% PURE BLACKBEARD

          Meeeehhhidonno, theres too much good to put it in top 10

  • ┼yree

    Blue Hummingbird on the Left is some crazy shit. It’s this strange blend of bestial black metal with Aztec influences. Plus there is flute playing!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mr9CjFM-cs

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Are there any Native American black metal bands? That would be rad.

    • Dubs

      Pretty much all of The Black Twilight Circle play in this vein.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        That’s what I figured.

      • 100% PURE BLACKBEARD

        I thought they were mostly latino/hispanic

        • Dubs

          Ah, oops, the two kind of overlap in the group. They’re concerned with indigenous tribes, be they Mexican or Native American.

          • 100% PURE BLACKBEARD

            Fair enuff, some of their shit is great

    • Celtic Frosty
      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Signed to a Michigan label too. Nice.

      • RJA

        I still haven’t given this record an appropriate listen. just some snippets here and there in passing. seems like a record that needs a good focused listen.

      • sweetooth0

        this interests me. Will book mark for later.

  • Did anyone else try to use the “TovH” promo code when buying Sanzu new LP? I cannot figure out how to apply the code. Plz help!

    GL

  • Spear

    Killer album, killer review. Good work, Lizardbro.

  • Lizard is pairing with Dubz for usage of fancy language.

    Thanks for inducing me headaches trying to traduce your rambles, language nerds.

    Terrific job once more, Lizard. Your writing is superb. The music didn’t do it for me, but I know some of you might find what I couldn’t.

  • RJA

    Great review – I think this was probably top 10 at the beginning of the year but now I’m not sure if it’s top 20. Still a great album though and the vinyl packaging is spectacular.

  • Óðinn
    • 100% PURE BLACKBEARD

      YABURNT

    • KJM, Shake Zula

      REKT.

      • 100% PURE BLACKBEARD

        Lol look at her face hahahaha

        • Óðinn

          I laughed so hard when I saw that first thing this morning.

    • Eliza

      That Yoda is cool, I don’t get why she complained.

      • 100% PURE BLACKBEARD

        If you work at Hooters, your life should be one big complaint

        • Eliza

          Whatever pays the bills.

    • Max

      Duped you have been. Litigate you shall. Knockers large you possess.

    • Guppusmaximus

      I thought the restaurant was named ‘Hooters’ not ‘A Carpenter’s Dream’?!

  • Eliza

    Their sound is interesting and different. The very best kind of different.

  • Phoenix of the House Tendies

    Kudos for this review and the analogy, lizard-man. Volahn are one of the few modern black metal bands that keep my interest.

    • HEY D00D!

      • Phoenix of the House Tendies

        Been good. Keeping too low a profile. I need to get some good beer in me and speak to the world about some good thrash.

        How bout you McNulty?

        • well now i’m on a show called The Affair, which is really good but i play the biggest douche evar.
          aside from that, jamming the new Ur Draugr

  • Very well done review. This is doing it for me, lil Lizard. Telecasters >>>>>>>>

  • Guacamole Jim

    Awesome review – great to see more non-traditional reviews in the Toilet. The music is super fucking dope too, which doesn’t hurt anything.

  • Waynecro

    Great review, Lacertilian! This album rips. I especially like “Koyopa.”

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Bodacious review dude! I gotta grab me this one.

  • Shit. This got recommended to me months ago when I asked about the Black Twilight Circle.

    • Lacertilian

      Kinda surprised it hadn’t been reviewed until now, been jamming it since last Summer down here and kinda drifted off it during June/July (winter) but now it’s hot as fuck down here again it had to be done.
      Get on it slacker!

  • God ov War

    This review rules… I always wanted a soundtrack to accompany my trips to the jungle

    Well done dude

  • Boss the “Crimson King” Ross

    Excellent review Lizard King! You have a wonderful way with words and metaphors and the like.

  • Dagon

    Koyopa sounds like sitting beneath a colorful waterfall.

    Great record and great review, man. Love how you laid out this post.