Aztlán: The Album to Take Cabrakaän to the Top?

Canadian-Mexican metal band Cabrakaän return this week with their brand new album. leaning into the mythology, traditions, and sounds of their home country and looking to build off of previous album, Aztlán, this release may be their must ambitious yet. Let’s check it out!

An absolutely fantastic intro track, ‘Tonantzin’, beings the album. It sets the scene perfectly, an epic, medieval/piratey number that builds slowly through strings and and tribal drumming, soon adding in some chanted vocals and then finally some distorted guitars in the back. It’s very rare I talk about intro tracks or interludes in-depth in these reviews, but this one was so good I couldn’t not. And it was nearly four minutes long, so I had to!

The scene is set perfectly for the first offical track, ‘Fuego’. It explodes in with a big riff and immediately into vocals. Speaking of which, the vocals are incredible. An operatic style reminiscent of symphonic metal bands like Within Temptation or Nightwish. However, there still remains that traditional Mexican style under it all that works so well with the heavier sounds. The dynamics of the track are great, too. Whether it’s catchy, operatic vocal parts, heavier riffing or the more traditional instruments shining through, there is so much going on, and it all clicks together perfectly. Around the midpoint of the track it also takes a surprising but awesome turn into death metal with a heavy riff and some great extreme metal screams. It’s a fantastic first track and the perfect way to introduce new listeners (me) as it hits them with a bit of everything they’ve got!

Check out more symphonic metal here!

‘Tlaloc’ is another track that bursts right in, the awesome screams making the riff even heavier. The verse is more fast, epic symphonic stuff and it builds perfectly back into the heaviness. I also find it really interesting that the songs don’t seem to follow the typical structure. There are definitely choruses and verses etc, but there’s a lot of other stuff thrown in there to keep the listener guessing. it’s all almost prog, which is fine by me! An awesome guitar solo is tucked into the middle of this track, too. It’s a really interesting, fun track which again combines their elements together well!

‘ Luces y Sombras’ is a massive highlight track of the album, for me. Right from the combination of the heavy drums and epic strings, I was hooked. And, the structure seems a tad more radio friendly, a little easier to follow. The verses are great with the clean, beautiful vocals, the harmonies on them incredible. The choruses are suitably epic too, maintaining the symphonic metal feel. And we still get plenty of heaviness in the bridge/breakdown verse. It’s definitely another single waiting to happen, I’m sure. It’s an awesome track, and easily makes our playlist!

‘Malintzin’ is another highlight track of the album as I love the interplay between the two vocals and two styles. The verse switching from the beautiful operatic vocals to the heavy screams was masterful, especially when it then transitioned seamlessly back for the chorus. The bridge is fun too, the strings adding an awesome layer of doom and epicness over the top of the heavy guitars. It’s another awesome song and the second in a row to get onto our Spotify!

Single ‘Mictlán’ and ‘Yolot’ are more of the same. The latter at least felt a little different as it was a slower, beautiful opening, and the drop-down in the middle to the more tribal sound was cool. However, generally there isn’t much new in the tracks.

‘Xóchitl’ is the ballad of the album. A simple acoustic guitar opens the track, and the soft, clean vocals fit so well over the top of it. It stays at this level throughout it’s 2:40 runtime too, and is honestly fantastic. It’s beautiful and breaks up an otherwise heavy album rather perfectly. One of my favourite ballads of the year!

Finally, we reach the most recent single, ‘La Cigarra’. It’s one hell of a fun track that brings back the Mexican Tradition sound in spades. The metal is still there, feeling more of an accompaniment, which I love. It reminds me of a more serious version of Nanowar of Steel’s ‘Chupacabra Cadabra’, having a similar style to inject metal into. It works perfectly with her vocals, too. It’s an amazing song and a really interesting addition to the album, given how heavy a lot of the rest of it is. It’s another that easily makes our playlist!

Overall: This was a great, interesting listen. It was all over the place in terms of style and sound, sometimes for the better, occasionally for the worse. Some of it did feel a tad messy, I must admit. While not every single track here is one of my favourites, there is a lot I love here, and as an album as a whole it’s solid. The band seem like they are pretty new and I cannot wait to see where they go in the future. Building on this would be awesome!

The Score: 7.5/10