Xalpen, Xo´on (Black Lodge Records, 2021)

Xaplan (pronounced Hal-pen) is a Chilean black metal band who seek to unmake the world through the practice of ancient, dark magic. They are organized and led by the touring bassist of Watain, Alvaro Lillo (performing bass and vocals), and guitarist and vocalist Juan Pablo Nuñez, with Joseph Merino of Škáŋ on drums. 

Their debut LP is titled Sawken Xo'on, which means "3 shamans" in the language of the Selk'nam tribe. The Selk'nam were a remote people who resided in the Patagonian region, an area that spans the southern part of modern Argentina and Chile, and were one of the last tribes encountered by those of European descent as they sought to exploit the continent.

Gold extraction and the incursion of industrial farming into their territory in the late 19th Century had a genocidal effect on the tribe, and the historical record is full of testimony of prospectors hunting the tribe's people for sport. By 1930, their numbers had dwindled to a mere 100 individuals.

Today, the tribe is considered extinct, with only a few scholars and descendants of mixed tribal backgrounds even capable of speaking their language. 

Drawing on this history of death and annihilation, the members of Xaplan conjure a chaotic maelstrom and a black magic cyclone as a form of revenge beyond the grave. A deathly tempest promulgated to purge from the land those who would bleed it dry, and kill the people fo depended on it, based on little more than speculation, fast riches, and perverse satisfaction. 

The music itself takes the form of traditional second-wave black metal, in the vein of bands like Mayhem circa De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas—with nods to the low-end-favoring production of Watain and the gothic, godless atmosphere of Mystifier.

In their intention and style, Xaplan are are very much in line with North American, tribal black metal bands like Pan Amerikan Native Front, who draw on native and indigenous traditions for dark inspiration, as opposed pan-European occultism and Satanism. 

Whether Sawken Xo'on actually has the real, manifest power to dissolve the horror of our present reality, and the past that made it possible, is unproven at this time. What is clear is the Xaplan's dedication to their purpose and the ruinous resolve of their art. But if objects in your environment begin to visibly dissolve and decay while this record is on, you should have an inkling as to why.

Don't say you weren't warned. 

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