Kexelür - Llave a las profundidades... (Self-released)

Latin American black metal (BM) has been around and affecting the genre’s trajectory for a very long time, but it's getting to the point where the third quadrant of your classic Rand McNally world map is becoming a more reliable source of elite, forward-thinking BM than either the first or the second (i.e. Europe and North America). Hailing from Santiago, Kexelür has released a nearly 45-minute thing that sounds nothing like its advertisement as a ‘demo’—notwithstanding the totally grimy DIY sound. If anything, Llave a las profundidades… presents a killer trio of one-song 'demos,' straitjacketed into a bizarro, cutting-edge record. It has something from all of my BM favorites last year—from the ornate guitar leads and croaking vox of Vauruvã, to the kaleidoscopic songwriting of Serpent of the Abyss, to the layered atmosphere of Ungfell—and notwithstanding the fact that Kexelür do not exceed any of those predecessors in their greatest strengths, the presence of all three in the span of a single debut makes for something downright epic unto itself. And yet, most impressive of all is how the infernal journey of Llave a las profundidades… (which actually means, “Key to the depths…”) summons the primordial spirit of Latin American BM, only with superior musicianship to suture it to the atmoblack-leaning outfits now in vogue (like Kaatayra and the aforementioned Vauruvã). The opener “Navegando en las ruinas de lo inerrable” (“Navigating the ruins of the infallible”) sounds like it’s wading through the same grody, indescribable substance that entirely submerged records like Göetia and The Lamb's Fury, by Mystifier and Impurity. But thanks to the guitarist’s dainty fretwork and the drummer’s feverish fear of stillness, we are transported almost unknowingly to somewhere even weirder: today. The last track, "Olostog," not only embraces the almighty appeal of the hook, but also bridges the major-scale meanderings made ubiquitous by Sunbather, to the textural experimentation of the best black-metal acts on Gilead, like Ustalost and (post-Mass Cathexis) Krallice. All told, Llave is such a wild ride, it's hard even to imagine what shape Kexelür's first 'full-length' will take.