Album Review: “The Curse of Kwanyep” by Xalpen

Chilean black metal trio Xalpen return from the bowels of Hell with its sophomore effort, The Curse of Kwanyep. “Chenke” is an infernal whirlwind of riffs and blast beats that rarely relents. The satanic trio are seamless with their rhythm changes and never falter. Things slow down on “Kolpewsh” with its pounding groove under the hellish tremolo guitar of Keykrok. This track recalls latter era Satyricon in both its guitar tone and structure. Xalpen do not merely imitate the Norwegian legends, and this track foreshadows what is to come.

The title track is the longest track on the record, clocking in at nearly nine-and-a-half minutes. It starts slow but quickly gains speed, before slowing in tempo with pulverizing double bass drums. This track never drags, maintaining an unnerving atmosphere until its conclusion. “The Beast From the East” is a rollicking track with some stellar drum work from Koch-Keul, specifically the main drum beat that transitions in to rolling blast beat. “Moon-Woman” is another fast paced track with guitar riffs that pierce the night sky. It is a fierce opus with a classical flair.

Xalpen do not reinvent the wheel on Kwanyep. Yet, it offers numerous surprises to make it a strong listen. The subject matter is rooted in Selk’nam mythology, a people indigenous to the Patagonian region of Chile and Argentina. The name “Xalpen” is the goddess of the underworld in Selk’nam mythology. Thus the band’s lyrical content is fresh as opposed to the cliched Judeo-Christian subject matter of its European contemporaries. The band’s musicianship is complex and cohesive. Again, I refer to the manic tempos on “Moon-Woman” and “Chenke” that showcase the band’s ability to play near the edge but pull back in time. It is a finely produced album that with none of the instruments drowning out the other.

The Curse of Kwanyep is a strong black metal release. Fans of Darkthrone, Emperor and Satyricon should take a liking to this album. The old school influence is there, but Xalpen also pay homage to their Chilean roots musically and lyrically. This band certainly does not fall victim to the sophomore curse.

Check out the band’s Facebook page for news and tour dates:

Buy the album here: https://xalpencult.bandcamp.com/album/the-curse-of-kw-nyep

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