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Review

Xibalba- Años En Infierno

Band: Xibalba
Album: Años En Infierno
Label: Southern Lord Records
Genre: Death Metal, Death/Doom, Hardcore
Country: U.S.
Release Date: May 29, 2020
For Fans Of: Earth Crisis, Autopsy, Gatecreeper

Xibalba are a band with roots firmly in the past, be it through their sound, which I can only describe as a love child between Earth Crisis and Autopsy, or with their subject matter, which include lyrics and imagery with roots in pre-hispanic history. Hailing from Pomona, CA, just outside of Los Angeles, Xibalba have been putting their stamp on the L.A. underground scene with a sound that blends the stylings of classic metallic hardcore with death metal in a way that is wholly unique to the band. The band formed in 2002 and have released 3 full length albums alongside multiple splits and EPs to much critical acclaim. In 2012, Xibalba released Hasta La Muerte, an album that catapulted the band into the underground spotlight and proved that they could please metalheads and hardcore kids alike. Años En Infierno, released on Southern Lord Records, is the band’s fourth full length album and may be their best to date.   

To start, I am admittedly a massive fan of everything that this band has ever done. They have a way of crafting simple songs that truly capture my ears. With Años En Infierno, Xibalba appear to have taken a new and more complex approach to songwriting, where hardcore has been the focal point in the past, it has taken a back seat to death metal and a new found penchant for slow churning doom riffs. The second track entitled, Corredor De La Muerte, is a 2 minute doom crusher with low guttural vocals that would feel at home on funeral doom records, which quickly lets the listener know what they are in for this time around. The band, however, never really sit in one niche for too long and the transition to the following track, Santa Muerte, throws you right back into death infused hardcore chaos. In a lesser band’s hands these quick transitions could come off as disjointed or downright sloppy, however, Xibalba moves in and out of genres seamlessly and the album is better for it. Años is simultaneously primitive and eclectic and proves that experimentation can be utilized in genres that are often criticized as being one-note and stale. This is most on display in the twop part closer El abismo I and II, throughout these two tracks Xibalba are able to display everything that has been showcased throughout the album and even add some new flair. Part one starts off with acoustic guitar and, get this, CLEAN singing that isn’t terrible and actually fits the song, it then gets low, slow and heavy in a way that absolutely crushes you. Part two then begins with blasting drums, leading into a hardcore riff that makes you want to kick your buddy in the face, the band then slows down again to lead the album out with a doomy riff that is indicative of what the focus of this whole album seems to be. Seriously, holy fucking shit, these two tracks are a rollercoaster in the best way possible and Xibalba has proven that they can do it all and do it in spectacular form.

Okay, so now the negative, a nitpick, this album is short, maybe too short. I could have listened to easily another 15 minutes, or two hours of this, but I guess this just shows how good the rest of this album is. Honestly, this is the most exciting thing that has come out in a long time. It is not often that an established band can mix up their sound in a way that is sure to bring in new fans and please people who have been with the band from the beginning. Xibalba is not a one trick pony and they are here to prove it. Años En Infierno has been, and will continue to be, heavy in my listening rotation for the foreseeable future. This is easily one of the best albums that has come out this year and it leaves me excited to see what Xibalba will do next.

Rating: 9.5 / 10

Tracklist

  1. La injusticia
  2. Corredor de la muerte
  3. Santa muerte
  4. Saka
  5. Años en infierno
  6. En la oscuridad
  7. El abismo I
  8. El abismo II

Total Playing Time: 35:50

Click here to visit Xibalba’s Bandcamp

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