There is a distinct dark energy that seems inherent to Latino extreme metal bands. The sonic stench emanating from the coffin is arguably more pungent and bleaker than the sounds born from the dark hearts and souls of metal musicians from many other regions. SHUB NIGGURATH, CENOTAPH, THE CHASM and DISGORGE—not to be confused with the Californian brutal death metal band with the same name—are a part of this elite pack. Another band worthy of note is the Aztec blackened death machine known as HACAVITZ, an ominous ensemble hailing from Querétaro, Mexico.

The group’s first couple of albums, “Venganza” and “Katun”, were absolutely blistering, and just as much bestial black metal as they were primitive death metal. This approach threaded itself through the band’s third release, “Metztli Obscura”, which was even more burly and death-metal-infused with its ANGELCORPSE-esque savagery. In stark contrast to the blitzkrieg assault of its initial trio of full-lengths, however, the Mexicans began to assume traits more akin to what one would expect from Scandinavian black metal artists on 2015’s “Darkness Beyond”, in terms of the energy and specific riff style. “Darkness Beyond” wasn’t by any means a bad record, not to say that it was a great record either, but the band had lost its maniacal edge. Things seemed too polished and relatively defanged from that which came before it.

Now, 15 years deep into its career, the blasphemous crew has returned with its fifth full-length album: “Nex Nihil”. The more obvious European black metal influences remain, yet unlike the HACAVITZ-lite nature of “Darkness Beyond”, it’s more the case that the collective has come to a point in its career where its consciously controlling the chaos from within. And compared to its predecessor, “Nex Nihil” is, in fact, more maniacal and desirably so.

This is extreme metal supremacy. It isn’t a display of tech metal wizardry, not to say that the members lack musical prowess by any means, but the ensemble chooses to focus its individual and collective talents into a dagger that’s just as ready to plunge but not as immediately as before. This metaphorical fear amongst listeners is likely to be more severe than it once was because the inevitable fate and murderous blade is delivered at the most unsuspecting of times. Indeed, “Nex Nihil” is the trio’s most dynamic release to date, one that finds the band reclaiming its edge and unhinged spirit. At the conclusion of “Nighte”, tremolo picking accompanies a riff that comes in and out like waves rising and crashing with trance-inducing power that’s almost undeniable. And this is immediately prior to the absolutely gripping and lulling introduction of follow-up track “Relentless Sleep”, which eventually leads toward a mid-paced Scandinavian styled blackened, fist-pumping arena of triumph. Elsewhere, album opener “Grimmagia” is pure bedlam; “Perish” is an absolutely ravaging blast-beat assault; and album finale, “Rabid The Moon”, adequately captures the act’s new balance between being just as majestic as they are animalistic with an early riff that should satisfy anyone who likes any form of heavy metal.

Sure, “Darkness Beyond” was scoffed at by a considerable number of fans and critics alike, but for anyone who has ever liked HACAVITZ‘s classic material and who is open to the idea that bands can and perhaps maybe even should be allowed to grow, “Nex Nihil” is a fantastic display of blackened death metal with depth.