It’s one hell of a ride
Recently, it’s become even more paramount to elevate people of color in every aspect possible. Whether that be in film, music or politics, the attention given to Black and Brown voices has shined a light on talent and opinions that the world really needs to hear. That said, the Latinx heritage backing California’s Xibalba runs through their entire discography, with their official debut Madre Mia Gracias Por Los Dias back in 2010 starting their long relationship with mosh-inducing hardcore. Xibalba foster that relationship further with their latest release Años En Infierno, even toying around with other facets of metaldom that amplify their sound rather than hinder it. Even though their name means “place of fear” in Mayan mythology, fans of Xibalba’s long career have nothing to fret—unlike some other bands with that many years under their belt, they haven’t lost any of their lusters.
Looking at album opener “La Injusticia,” its bass-heavy introduction leads into a characteristic but refreshing back and forth between guitarist Brian Ortiz’s chugging riffs and drummer Jason Brunes’ master-crafted blast beats. They keep that same energy with the short but effective “Corridor De La Muerte,” though the real hero of that track may just be Nate Rebolledo’s vocal cords. The track is barely over two minutes long, but his guttural growls have an impactful echo throughout the rest of the album. “Saka” is another one that sticks out by finding that sweet spot between an initially minimal approach and an overall full and robust outcome. Brunes takes a tribal stance with his drumbeat. It broils on to become one of the best breakdowns on the record while also being a good midpoint transition to its latter half.
The last pair of tracks, “El Abismo I” and “II,” is where Xibalba really shows their range. The former acts as the somewhat somber, brooding half—Ortiz’s riffs do ominous sludgy doom fair justice. To boot, layering effects on Rebolledo’s vocals show some creative flair in the band, even when the track harkens a more serious tone. Those slow moments in part one feels as though there are some unfettered bits of respite to draw the album to a close, only to be struck down by the force of part two. They blast through with a final reminder of their hardcore prowess, sprinkled with bits of funeral doom to show their willingness to swing into different styles.
A sonic journey all unto itself, part two somehow encompasses the ups and downs of the entire album just in its six-and-a-half-minute runtime. It’s one hell of a note to go out on, but it wouldn’t be an Xibalba record if they didn’t leave people yearning for more.