Xibalba
Madre Mia Gracias Por Los Dias

Xibalba are five-piece from southern-california who play a slightly throwback inspired take on metallic hardcore. Fortunately that throwback flair is drawing inspiration from some incredibly heavy acts such as Disembodied and Bloodlet. A sound and delivery where the common thread is in their use of down-tuned, simple chugging riffs, with a dark and menacing motif. However, one element that separates the band from not just their peers but also their predecessors is their slight dusting of Hispanic influence. From the artwork, merchandise and album title to Spanish lyrics and themed songs – it adds a unique quality, establishing their own identity while making it sound tough as nails and streetsmart.

I first heard of the band via one of A389 Records’ free digital samplers earlier in the year. As with the pedigree of most A389 bands, it was clear from the start that these guys don’t take too kindly to Christian dogma; utilizing that special malevolent aura bands like Rise And Fall, Integrity, and Ringworm possess. However, it was also apparent from that one song, “Bright Sun”, that they weren’t content to ape the current trends in hardcore. From the aforementioned influences (ie. Late 90’s, down-tuned, chugging, metallic hardcore) through the rough and slightly dry sounding production, there is a simplicity to Xibalba’s sound that is endearing. Nothing is over-thought, there are no multi-layers to sift through. This is pure, brutal, breakdown-loving heaviness that is fun to listen to. And the reference point of Disembodied is so profound I’m obligated to bring their name up again, because truly if you enjoy the band then Xibalba is mandatory for your life.

The simplicity can be a bit of a double-edged sword. By the time the record is over, the majority of the songs are mostly indistinguishable – sure they’re all heavy, but when the dust settles, do you find yourself humming any memorable parts or racing back to hear “that one song” again? Most likely not. You get pummeled throughout so consistently with the same formula that only a few tracks have the “stand out” factor. And let’s be honest, 90% of the riffing takes place on the lowest three frets of the guitar, so I wasn’t expecting dramatic peaks or valleys, but some color against the monochrome would’ve been nice – if only here and there. But being “no frills” is a quality that can more than compensate for repetition.

That being said, there are a few songs that did hit a bit harder and have me coming back for more. “Red” is a track that gets to business quick and doesn’t fuck around; employing some Roots-era Sepultura riffs, which is always a good way to get heads bobbing and crowds rioting. “Cold” sounds like Hatebreed meets Entombed played at half speed. “Cursed” is especially tough and punishing with some serious back-to-back riffment. The endnote of the album, “Salvation”, ends the record with one of the band’s most destructive breakdowns complete with a great, ominous spoken-word line before obliteration: “No longer in your god’s hands does your salvation lie. Come with me and I’ll set you free…” BOOM! A satisfying way to wrap-up an impressive debut which has set the band up for a sophomore album that I’m already excited about.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Stacy Buchanan
September 29th, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    ooh, an Integ comparison. worth checking out…


  2. Commented by: That's How Kids Die

    Only the Black Metal Xibalba is Real.


  3. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I think they should fight to see who comes out still alive.


  4. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    it would seem that there are at least 5 bands called Xibalba, including two whole black metal bands, these dudes, a thrash act, and some weird Japanese Visual Kei thing. that’s pretty impressive.


  5. Commented by: Cynicgods

    There’s(was? not sure if they’re still around) a death metal band from Monterrey, Mexico called Xibalba. Old Cryptopsy/Sylvain Houde-era Kataklysm sound. Excellent band but the guys were a bunch of dicks.


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