Tunjum – Deidades del Inframundo (2018) REVIEW

For roughly seven hundred years the Mochica culture dominated the northwestern coastal highlands of Peru leaving their mark as a highly sophisticated, artistic, and collaborative society in service to an incredible pantheon of gods. The most brutal of these ancient gods was perhaps the creator and god of the sky himself Al Paec who bore giant fangs, snakes for earrings, and a jaguar atop his head. The Moche were a people who understood and emphasized the spiritual importance of yawar, sangre, blood. Ritual human sacrifices to Al Paec involved filling ornate goblets with the blood of beheaded prisoners of war and citizens alike. Hailing from Lima, Peru death metal band Tunjum formed a decade ago to celebrate not only ancient forms of underground death metal but also the brutal history of Peru’s indigenous cultures.

The old gods still lust for war and the bloody death it brings and it would seem they’ve channeled their furious calls through ‘Deidades del Inframundo’ a mid-paced death metal album that takes equal influence from North American, Scandinavian, and South American gods of death metal. Formed as an all female death metal band in 2007, much as changed in terms of line-up in the last decade but the spirit of the primal blackened death of Genocidio and Insulter (Brazil) and the subtly stoic heaviness of Asphyx and Bolt Thrower is more alive than ever in their music. The attack is intentionally ‘primitive’ and uncomplicated but Tunjum‘s movements are sophisticated and typically carry grand melody that reveals itself with time.

Though you might be drowning in the bloody sea of death metal releases this year it should be no problem to make room for ‘Deidades del Inframundo’ as nothing else carries this same mid-paced rhythm as successfully as Tunjum in 2018. From the perfect rattling bass guitar tone to drummer Kultarr‘s staggered blasts and impressive vocal roar it really does become it’s own thing even before you consider the early Barry Thompson-worthy guitar performances. The album’s sound has a resolved duality between the off-kilter death/doom of Sorrow‘s ‘Hatred and Disgust’ with faster pacing akin to early Mystifier. With that said I think simply pointing to 90’s US death/doom demo tapes and South American black/death classics should put you in the right mindset. Tunjum are diabolically heavy and successfully embody the savagery committed in the name of ancient gods they speak of.

Odd as it might seem there are several memorable tracks on ‘Deidades del Inframundo’ with the key melodic device being the guitar work. The opener “La Venganza De La Bestia” is the most striking example of this as mid-90’s Bolt Thrower-esque leads translate the voices of  deities thirsting for devastation and violence. This begins a subtle melodic thread that works beautifully in succession across the album’s length. A full listen reveals the aforementioned sophistication that lies beneath the growling mid-paced slap of the album. This should appeal to fans of groups like Desecresy most as each song builds and topples it’s own melodic ‘story’ before moving onto the next semi-related movement. Sure, death metal 101 to some people but I’m not fawning over complexity so much as communicating the high musical value of Tunjum‘s guitar work, despite seeming fairly samey.

There is no ‘bad’ track or misstep here and I think the only real justifiable criticism of Tunjum‘s full-length debut is in it’s too-subtle variations. This is nonsense to you and I, the discerning old school death metal fanatic, but with repeated listening comes a very straight forward experience either way. The rotten pulse of Tunjum‘s sound is what I come away with most but there are some incredible tracks here worth previewing; The ‘Severed Survival’-like bass tone and harrowing mid-paced death/doom intensity of “Destino De Los Cautivos” is a decent place to start but a lot of the album’s best hooks are found in the first half on the opener and “Difunta Señora Soberana”. The album’s unshakable momentum should easily carry you through a full listen from there. Highly recommended.

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Artist Tunjum
Type Album
Released July 23, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Dunkelheit Productions’ Bandcamp! Tunjum on Metal-Archives
Genre Death Metal

Runa wilancha. 4.0/5.0

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