Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Album Review: Xibalba "Tierra Y Libertad" reviewed by Dave Wolff

Band: Xibalba
Album: Tierra Y Libertad
Released: Jan 27, 2015
Genre: Hardcore / Death Metal
Location: Pomona, California
Physical CD:
Cold Cuts Merch:
All In Merch:
Reviewed by: Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Enemigo
2. Guerrilla
3. Invierno
4. Pausa
5. En Paz Descanse
6. Tierra Y Libertad
7. Si Dios Quiere
8. El Vacio

Xibalba hail from Pomona, California USA and this is their third full length since 2010 (I looked up the band on Encyclopedia Metallum and found that there are at two other bands with the same name; one from New York and one from Maryland; plus a band from Mexico called Xibalba Itzaes). The band also released a demo in 2007 and appeared on three split releases in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Right from the beginning of this recording I was reminded why I gravitated toward death metal like Brujeria and Grave in the mid-90s and grindcore like Terrorizer and Agathocles six years earlier. This 2015 release is a breath of fresh air after the pop mediocrity I experienced from 2000 to 2010, besides Metal By Numbers and other supposed novelty songs from that time period, not to mention the ever-growing stereotypes concerning fans of extreme music. In three quarters of an hour I reveled in relentlessly brutal guitars with jackhammer percussion, thundering bass and rasping vocals with a street-level edge I recall from gatherings at Wetlands and Coney Island High when Manhattan’s death metal scene was on the upswing. I could envision the gritty streets, feel the attitudes of the patrons who frequented those clubs, even if visiting where they stood would be like visiting the desecrated grave of a family member. It made me wonder how these elements could have diminished in recent years. Actually I imagine it was the city’s gentrification and the ‘money rules’ mentality that led the clubs we knew and loved to close down. Xibalba exists in direct opposition to the powers that be just as Napalm Death did and still do. This is death metal in the purest sense, completely stripped of the trappings I described just before. Listening to this CD, and really allowing myself to absorb the songs recorded for it, it feels as if the gentrification never happened and the scene is bigger than ever. The latter statement is not far from the truth, as bands have not less but more creative control today thanks to those social media sites. Tierra Y Libertad resurrects that pre-FUSE TV underground spirit and has elements that should appeal to fans of death metal and hardcore equally. I find it difficult to choose a favorite song from this album; if I had to it would be El Vacio, the album’s longest track which overwhelms you with its bleakness and variance in moods.

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