ALBUM REVIEW: Ershetu – Xibalba


The five-piece atmospheric black metal act Ershetu releases debut album entitled Xibalba (Debemur Morti Productions), a label focusing on Black, Death, Doom, Sludge amd avant-garde extreme metal, and which has worked with several renowned names such as Blut Aus Nord and Archgoat.

Ershetu creates cinematic music that merges epic, obscure, and atmospheric metal elements with the poignant dramatism of film scores, making their soundscapes a solemn and cinematic one at the same time. Not only incorporating atmospheric black metal elements, they also managed to converge elements of folk metal into the sonic landscape that they present on the overall trajectory of their musical journey.

The debut album Xibalba has a vehement emphasis on Mayan folklore, where they used interpretation of ideas from the sacred text the Popol Vuh, in which, it is a text recounting the mythology and history of the Kʼicheʼ people of Guatemala which happen to a part of the Mayan civilization, making it a relevant reference to the theme of the album.


The usage of Popol Vuh as a reference that they interpret on this album is not for historical or ethnological purposes, but rather, it is to vividly transport their listeners into a tumultuous ancient world where life and death were perpetually intertwined. In short, they are paying homage towards the Mayan cultural heritage that has things to do with the ancient world and the very dichotomy between the state of living and dying. 


Consisting of six intricate tracks, they present an impeccable orchestral core swathed in folk instrumentation. The impassioned soaring vocals and entranced chanting of Lars Are Nedland, who is famous for two Norwegian legendary metal acts Borknagar and Solefald, also helps build a cinematic and mythological atmosphere, while being accompanied by an arid undertow of textural black metal guitars. 


This album is heavy on screeching blast beats and thunderous cacophony while also preserving ancient folklores of the ancient world. It is an amalgamation between ancient culture and modern creativity at its best.


Buy the album here:

9 / 10