Named after the literal translation for the Aztec war God Huitzilopochtli, Blue Hummingbird on the Left are part of the infamous Black Twilight Circle – a collective of Mexican-American black/death metal bands from mainly Southern California (Long Beach) themed around mostly Aztec/Mayan mythology. Much like the equally infamous Les Légions Noires, the music is characterized by its obscurity, often centred on a few individuals who make up the majority of acts within the circle. One such person is Volahn (Eduardo Ramírez) aka Yayauhqui who has been a major player in the USBM scene (Southern California, more specifically) for nearly two decades. With “Atl Tlachinolli”, Blue Hummingbird on the Left’s debut full-length, Volahn brings forth a markedly different beast than any of his previous efforts, bringing forth more clarity and aggression than ever before.
The first thing that will strike you upon hearing opening track “Sun/War Club” is the delay-drenched vocals reminiscent of bands like Revenge or Beherit, which at first kind of works but gets tedious as the album wears on. Vocals aside, there are some excellent moments spread across this 30-minute release like the militant rhythms and rabid war riffs on “Rain Campaign”, the bestial grooves of “Blood Flower”, and the surprisingly melodic “Tenochtitlan”, which is probably the albums greatest moment. Being careful not to overdo the barbarity in favour of writing songs with actual hooks and memorable riffs, the amount of variation on display here is unusual for a war metal-type band. It is these elements that could and should have been fleshed out a lot more, because this is clearly where their strength lies, even if they do sound a bit like the mighty Bölzer at times which his certainly no bad thing.
Although there are parts of “Atl Tlachinolli” that really do make Blue Hummingbird on the Left stand out all on their own, the delay effect on the vocals kinda spoils it all for me. It is baffling why you would spoil a great death metal voice and performance for the sake of sounding a bit ‘out there’, especially as the delay is not even in time! The music, however, is incredible and I can’t urge you enough to go give this album a spin. (DaveW)