Thursday, August 20, 2020

Full Length Review: Chabtan "Nine Levels" (Dark Tunes Music Group) by Dave Wolff

Band: Chabtan
Location: Paris
Country: France
Genre: Modern melodic death metal
Full Length: Nine Levels
Label: Dark Tunes Music Group (Germany)
Release date: April 20, 2018
Chabtan immerses themselves quite deeply in Mesoamerican mythology and history. Though they’re from France they’re undeniably knowledgeable and adept at paying homage to Mayan, Mixtec, Zapotec, and Aztec civilizations on “Nine Levels.” Mesoamerica is one of the world’s oldest, most independently developing cultures, having thrived a full millennium before Spain’s colonization of that part of the world, and its interaction with several different cultures had a significant part in forming the New World. About eighty percent of Mesoamerica’s indigenous population was lost after Columbus’ discovery of the Americas. Greed and desire for conquest led to the massive loss of lives and culture, and this period in history is considered the first act of large scale genocide. As Chabtan digs into these ancient times, reawakening and celebrating the forgotten Mesoamerican era, “Nine Levels” is a distinguished example of the historical transcendence underground metal can achieve. Taking almost a decade to hone their melodic death metal, Chabtan actualizes a personally meaningful, historically relevant statement. Described as comparable to “a thunderstorm conjured up by an angry Aztec war god”, “Nine Levels” is a living, breathing example of distinctively unconventional metal, expanding on their conceptual tales of forgotten but reawakened Mexican and Central American deities from “The Kiss of Coatlicue” (2015). "Nine Levels” may not be as caustic as Amon Amarth or as brutal as Nile, but Chabtan expands on their debut EP “Eleven” (2013), with inspiration from Sepultura and Meshuggah, serpentine arrangements, profound keyboards and choral vocals, philosophically based lyrics, corybantic percussion and traditional instruments that put the screws to the pigeonholing of bands. The feeling of entering the past is made tangible with atmosphere, chants, panpipes and Mesoamerican percussion. Nature, religious and cultural tradition, art and architecture are revealed in all their mysterious glory. The frenetic double bass, fills and blast beats provided by drummer Paul Mora complements those elements with a major amount of versatility. This and the emotion channeled into the material by vocalist Cris Red is essential to put across the collective pain of millions of human beings who perished under the tyranny of the conquistadores. An extremely honest and heartfelt homage to the distant past, “Nine Levels” proves once again there’s always something new to be found in the world of underground metal. –Dave Wolff

Cris Red: Vocals
Dimitri Merly: Guitar
Erwan Montagne: Guitar
Laurent Gasperetti: Bass
Paul Mora: Drums

Track list:
1. The Last Maya King
2. Escaping Seven-Death
3. Among the Demons
4. Jaguars Hunger
5. Never Ending Pain
6. Maya Messiahs
7. Xibalba
8. The Fall of Nojpetén
9. Nourished by Four Gods
10. Facing One-Death
11. The Last Maya God

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