Xibalba – Años En Infierno: Album Review

Feel the wrath of Californian heavyweights Xibalba, showing no mercy and keeping their cultural message intact with their fourth full-length Años En Infierno.

Released: 29th May 2020

Label: Southern Lord

Format: CD / LP / Digital

For the past 13 years Xibalba have been dedicated to carving a sound which combines unadulterated aggression booming out of the vocals, an ultra-heavy low-end frequency, colossal Death metal riffs, brutal hardcore breakdowns, and a trademark groove now synonymous with the group. Años En Infierno takes these conventions and finds a new way of expression that the band define as “more harsh, brutal and creative in a metaphorical sense.”

(Picture: Nate Rebolledo)

La Injusticia opens the record in devastating fashion. There are plenty of monotonous chugging guitars and drums that put you into submission early on. Out of nowhere the pace of the track explodes with fury. If you wanted a band to grab your attention in a few minutes; look no further than Xibalba’s opening here.

The guttural churn of the vocals as the album moves on is truly frightful. Santa Muerte, so named after a female deity, idol or folk saint; a personification of death, opens up with more growls, razor sharp riffs and blistering drumming. This is a more straight up death metal track that seeks to rip your face off. A breakdown in the middle of the song allows for air but make it a deep breath as the onslaught continues.

Samba style drumming adorns the epic introduction to Saka. The low end of the guitars is rib shaking. It’s the sound of smashing your head against a punching bag.

The title track has all the aforementioned motifs however there is a massive doom section within the song where the pace trudges in a ruinous way. This is not for the fainthearted. En La Oscuridad, which I believe means ‘In The Dark,’ feels like an apt track title for the band. Again, the music pummels relentlessly.

The showpiece of the album comes in the last two tracks in the album; El Abismo I and II. Both notch up the seven minute mark and play with newer timbres to the rest of the album. El Abismo, or The Abyss, uses a serenely harmonic guitar line to set up the piece. There is also a place for some cleaner vocals too. It feels like a different band in the first three minutes or so. Naturally, you are dragged through the mire periodically as the juxtaposition of the harmonious and the dissonant. Part II goes back for the jugular before playing with the changes again. It’s an exciting trip fifteen minute trip and shows that Xibalba can be so cataclysmic and so mild within a heartbeat.

Años En Infierno is another crushing addition to the canon of Xibalba and a release that certainly sits well on Southern Lord. The pursuit of aural artistry is always at the forefront of any release on this wonderful label.

Listen to En La Oscuridad from Xibalba here:

Xibalba: Bandcamp / Facebook / Twitter

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