Review: Xibalba – “Madre Mia Gracias Por Los Dias” (Southern Lord Records)

Hailing from Pomona, CA, hardcore death metal upstarts XIBALBA are ready for blood to spill. Xibalba is an ancient Mayan word that literally means place of fear or land of the dead. Mystical names attached to apocalyptic prophecies aside, XIBALBA kicks ass. Operating outside the current crop of typical bands, they are actually doing a style that is more like a hybrid of 90’s hardcore and death metal than modern deathcore. Downtuned and foreboding, the music definitely has the character and feeling of impending doom and is not for the faint of heart or soft in taste.

From the first notes of the aural assault that is “Bright Sun” you are not hearing any kind of trend jumping, prettied up metal for the masses. You hear bold hardcore and death metal inspired gut wrenching metal made for the stage, the mosh pit and most of all the microphone pile up. The band has as much in common with HATEBREED as they do THE ACACIA STRAIN, but again don’t call it deathcore. The slow, punishing main riffs will have you breaking your neck with glee and throwing the horns.  “Madre Mia“ is next and keeps the brutality level turned on high. The combination of urgent riffs and tight, technical playing really makes the track. “Never Kneel” just beats your ear drums senseless with insistent rhythms and crushing chord changes. There is a definite flavor here like OBITUARY and MALEVOLENT CREATION that continues on next track “Fallen”. Vocalist Nate Rebolledo sounds like he’s going to scream hard enough to make his lungs blow out of his chest. His gruff, bowel shattering vocals have an intensity to match the brooding feel of the music perfectly. “Time’s Up” sounds like a pre-Roots SEPULTURA with its killer drums supplied by Jason Brunes and the grinding riffs of guitarists Jensen Hucle and Brian Ortiz. The band is not afraid to try experimenting or take musical chances which I like, as heard on “We Deserve to Die”. In between brutal power grooves lay some intricate guitar work that may surprise you. Later on in the song it’s full on circle pit time. In addition to peppering the album with some cool intros via movie samples, the last third of the album contains their earlier releases as well. That way you get the full picture of what this band is capable of. Good music to either hurt someone else or yourself to.

RATING: 8 / 10
By: Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
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