The Yaqui are an Indian tribe that once flourished in what is now the Mexican state of Sonora. According to Wikipedia, the tribe currently numbers between 11 and 15,000, living here in the US as well as Mexico. Like many other Native Americans, the Yaqui have clashed with those who would attempt to rob them of their culture, lands and traditions throughout history. Much of the tribe was converted to Christianity by invaders, but the Yaqui have worked to retain their age-old beliefs and tribal unity in spite of the cultural meddling.
What’s the point of this history lesson? “Tukaaria” is a Yaqui word meaning “the night,” and this tidbit of information may give us an indication as to at least some of the themes and ideas behind this mysterious black metal entity’s debut full length, Raw to the Rapine, which has been reissued on CD by Profound Lore (it was originally issued on cassette by Rhinocervs in 2011).
Another indication is the presence of the word “rapine” in the album’s title, which the dictionary defines as “the violent seizure of someone’s property.” At this point you’ve undoubtedly put two and two together; Raw to the Rapine is both a lamentation and a battle cry, a bitter reminder that the Scandinavians weren’t the only people to have their indigenous ways raped beyond repair by outside forces. Mankind’s desire to subjugate others via the combination of religion and brute force is surely one of his most vile qualities, and is therefore perfect fodder for a black metal album.
And what a black metal album Raw to the Rapine is. Like ghostly voices reverberating through the makeshift footpaths of an abandoned settlement, Tukaaria creates a haunted sonic landscape; the only way I can think of to describe it is empty-sounding. The presence of the word “empty” isn’t to say that Raw to the Rapine lacks substance, rather it is meant to signify that the mix here is just as spacious as it is suffocating, if such a thing is possible. Tukaaria is an expert in balancing density and minimalism; painting vivid yet unrelentingly black pictures of death, sorrow and loss with just vocals, drums and a few layers of guitars. When one listens to the album, it is easy to imagine night falling over that aforementioned forsaken village; fires withering down to the last faintly glowing embers, the wind lazily blowing dust and ashes, eroding away any signs of life.
Raw to the Rapine doesn’t grab you with the same immediacy as the self-titled CD from Tukaaria’s Black Twilight Circle cohort Odz Manouk, which was released simultaneously, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable in the long run. The album is the very definition of a “grower,” its darkly sublime subtleties only revealing themselves through extensive listening, which ultimately leads to a supremely rewarding black metal experience. Like Odz Manouk, the CD version of Raw to the Rapine is limited to just 500 copies and is an essential piece of USBM. Don’t miss out.