In 2017, the band Cabrakaän had their first ever gig in Canada, at the Metalocalypstick Fest in Lone Butte, British Columbia. They loved the experience so much that they decided to relocate and nowadays reside in Calgary. With Aztlan, they release their sophomore album on 17th November. I was curious about the band after reading about their history and share my thoughts about the long-play with you.
Cabrakaän – About The Artists
Cabrakaän started as a trio in 2012 in Toluca, Mexico. There have been some changes in the band lineup, also due to the relocation. They are a symphonic folk metal band, who also use traditional instruments like the ocarina, arpa jarocha, huehuetl or marimba. Nowadays, Cabrakaän consists of five band members. Patrizia Cuikani is the lead singer and plays some of the instruments. David Saldarriga Tobon is the bassist and rhythmic guitarist of the band, while Marko Cipäktli is doing drums, other rhythmic instruments and also vocals like shouting. Finally, Alex Navarro is the lead guitarist, while Chellan Hoffman plays the organ. Their EP Songs from Anahuac has still been released during their Mexican “period” in 2014. The debut album by the Mexican-Canadian band, Cem Anahuac My Home has been released in 2019.
Cabrakaän – Aztlan – Track by Track
The twelve song album lasts 53 minutes.
The album opens with traditional folk sounds. There are traditional drums and flutes in this very atmospheric, instrumental opener. It is definitely a nice appetizer – even though I can already tell you that the future sounds will be heavier.
The second track takes us into the “Fire”, The former single release nicely combines traditional sounds with symphonic metal elements. Pat Cuikani is leading the sound of the song from the very first moment. Very good, forward-marching sound.
The third track offers more versatility. There are different sections, from speedy and rhythmic parts with grunting vocals, which scare you off. However, there are also rather steadily marching parts with almost stomping character. The instrumental part of the song is a nice treat as well.
4. Luces y Sombras
A better knowledge of the Spanish language would definitely boost my listen. Luckily, I barely manage to understand that this one is about “Lights and Shadows”. The band works with a wide instrumental again, which leads to a very impressing listen. I like the dramatic and narrating style of this track.
The song opens with a vocal firework: Pat Cuikani starts with a symphonic, melodic vocal part, while Marko Cipäktli replies with a dark grunt. This dialectic structure defines the plot of the song – Malintzin feels like a battle of two vocalists. This leads to a very entertaining listen.
Many songs are referring to Aztek mythology. Mictlan, for example, is the name of the underworld. Based on that, it is not that suprirising that the single release comes with some very dark elements. However, Alex Navarro has also a rather busy job on the guitar side. Again, the vocal performance by the Canadian-Mexican band feels fascinating to me.
The seventh track is a song which comes with a lot of interesting perks. There some really dark and heavy episodes. The middle part, however, rather reminds of the opener. Cabrakaän has a lot of options in their music toolkit – and they use the different elements wisely. Even a 5.15 minute song like this one does not feel lenthy at all.
Sometimes, I just can quote Wikipedia. Xochitl was a Toltec empress consort and wife of Tecpancaltzin Iztaccaltzin. Maybe you are more into this part of history than I am. The song is a beautiful ballad, which again has a nice focus on the different instruments.
9. La Cigarra (feat. Reed Alton)
For the (in fact) last track, Reed Alton of the Calgary band Osyron has been added as a guest vocalist. La Cigarra feels a lot like Mexican temper and tradition. The guitars are not going for the full metal power, which leads to a lovely co-existance of the vocalists with instruments like the violin. A great (and unique) way to interpret this traditional Mexican mariachi song.
10. Mictlan (English Version)
Mictlan in an English recording opens some sort of bonus track section. I have to say that I like these songs to a certain extent, just because it is much easier for me to understand the lyrics. I cannot judge, how close the English lyrics are to the Spanish ones – but overall, you have to state that these three tracks at the end of the album don’t add that much.
11. Fuego (English Version)
The second English version is the translated recording of Fuego. The only thing I could do is doing copying and pasting. It is nice, but this eleventh track is not adding any kind of atmosphere or excitement to the listen.
12. Luces y Sombras (English Version)
The last translated version is about the same conclusion. Even though the version is not fully one-to-one compared to the Spanish recording. I don’t feel that much of a difference in here. I liked fourth track, so that I am pleased with this close.
Cabrakaän – Aztlan – Spotify
Here is the album on Spotify:
Cabrakaän – Aztlan – My View
I really enjoyed listening to Aztlan. I feel that this combo is doing a lovely blending of folk and metal elements. The English tracks are likely not more than a nice addition, but the album has a unique and entertaining touch.
Favorite Song: Luces y Sombras
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