Xibalba
Tiera Y Liberdad

There are more than likely going to be two camps when it comes to Southern California’s hardcore bruisers Xibalba. One faction will feel their style of super down-tuned chuggtastic hardcore is the heaviest, most punishing sound on the planet and the counterpoint is that they are knuckle dragging simpletons who cant tune guitars or write songs.

And while this very site has covered both of the band’s prior releases, (2001s Madre Mia Gracis Por Las Dias and 2012 Haste la Muerte), I personally had no idea about this band and which side of the fence I stood on the issue. That’s until the last song from Tiera y Libertad, “El Vacio” popped up on my Ipod, peaking my interest, as it was a 12 minute doom song you’d expect from Finland. And now, my opinion to the band leans towards the first camp as I have listened to this most recent album and the prior two in depth.

Sure, these guys are basically Hatebreed or Full Blown Chaos with ridiculously downtuned sludgy guitars as their metallic hardcore backbone, but a deeper death metal element that culls from Bolt Thrower and even Sepultura lurks and writhes with dark malevolence amid the beatdown. And beatdowns there are; Xibalba is indeed a force to be reckoned with when it comes to pure, down-tuned metallic chugs and lopes. The likes of opener “Enemigio” “Invierno” or  the title track are just fucking devastating, rumbling with darkly forceful groove and muddy malevolence. This isn’t uplifting, gang chant laden, brotherhood type hardcore but an apocalyptic, threatening, sonic thunder storm. And you’d better take fucking cover.

Then you get what appears to be an increased sludge doom element that might upset the bandana clad fans of the bands tough sound. Parts of “En Pase Decanse” the penultimate track “Si Dios Quiere” and the aforementioned closer “El Vacio”, not only slow things down to a monolithic plod, they actually have some brooding melancholic strains and melodies undulating under the heft that remind of Crowbar (especially “En Pase Decanse”).

But it the almost 13 minute “El Vacio” that really impressed me. I would never have pegged it as a Xibalba song had i not known. Its sloooooow and plays like My Dying Bride or  Evoken complete with sullen acoustics, whispered somber clean vocals and deeper death metal/doom metal growls. No lie. But it works really well and shows Xibalba as a developing band that isn’t afraid to break from the simpler style and spread their wings. I’m curious to hear more if they continue down this path.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 23rd, 2015

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