Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Xibalba: "Tierra Y Libertad"

Xibalba's last album "Hasta La Muerte" was memorable only by merit of  it's crushing weight. They have shed a few a pounds. It's strange to think this album is coming out on Southern Lord as it sounds like it could have come from Roadrunner Records.The hard core beat down vibe that dominated their last album has given way to a groove laden death-metal. The opener is not far removed from Sepultura. In some area's the production sounds more polished than their last album, but there is still a rough coat of grit to it.

There is a very "Where the Slime Live" slither to the opening of "Guerilla" and then later on in the same song a riff that feels like  the break down into  "Fall From Grace" crops up. They keep just enough death metal in the sound to keep things from falling on the Panterrible side of the fence. The second and third song bleed together, it's not until the dissonant ambiance  of the interlude entitled  "Pausa" that they regain your attention. When they launch back into the actual songs, things take a more lateral step. The main riff to "En Paz Descanse" has a more musical quality than some of the other slabs of meat they whip around on this album. It also sounds like their singer is trying to sing actual notes in the way some of his barks are sustained.

Some of the doomier sections of this album sound like Machine Head if you listened to them after huffing ether. But Xibalba has a greater command of their sound at the slower tempos than when the accelerate. The title track really puts this fact under the microscope. They are not privy to my golden rule that cool riffs alone do not make a good song. They pile the riffs on without relenting. Tuned lower than a bullfrog's belch, the guitar tone this time is more of a rumble. Although they really slam you with the chugfest of "Si Dios Qui" at this point in the album you are becoming numbed out to it's one dimension of  heaviness.

They end the album with a song that clocks in at twelve minutes and forty three seconds. They do not start off with the full frontal jack hammering. Instead they opt for a little foreplay. Effects laden spoken word vocals  are set against the post -rock creep of cleaner guitar,  one of the albums more creative moments, but they are only able to restrain themselves for two minutes before giving in to their need drop the hammer. This closing sprawling song finds  the angry guitar gnashing it's teeth with every chord like it's floating down the river Styx. They are still good at doing what they do, even if it is Neanderthal in delivery, so I'll give it a 7.

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