Monday, 2 February 2015

Xibalba - Tierra Y Libertad (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 27/01/2015
Label: Southern Lord Recordings

‘Tierra Y Libertad’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

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

Xibalba is:

Nate Rebolledo | Vocals
Brian Ortiz | Guitar
Jason Brunes | Drums
Miguel Salazar | Guitar
Jensen Hucle | Guitar, Bass


With so much of the death and black metal subgenres being focused around influence, not all that far removed from that dismal era where deathcore was the “hot new thing” only a couple of years ago; it’s been nice to have some bands working in hardcore influences that aren’t born out of Meshuggah’s one-note staccato stuttering and bargain bin death metal riffs. Xibalba hardcore influences go back much earlier and from a place I find a lot more interesting.

The death metal half of Xibalba’s sound often take its cues from ‘Blessed Are The Sick’ era Morbid Angel, especially its molten sludge guitar tone, bowling shoe-ugly chord choices, and slower palm-muted riffs, which sets them apart from a large number of Morbid Angel devotees who’d rather cull from their speedier fare. While Xibalba uses hardcore for a lot of its rhythmic influence, it warrants emphasizing that they are not a deathcore band by any stretch. Deathcore has a tendency towards cold, clinical production and the aforementioned monotone staccato riffs emulating the kick drum. It makes for a boring if not outright infuriating listening experience. With ‘Tierra Y Libertad’, you might find similar influences in a band like Internal Bleeding, where things are a bit more agile and lively.

Vocalist Nate Rebolledo’s full-throated yell makes his lyrics easier to understand than most, and I’m not going to pretend here that I know enough about the subjects addressed to form a real opinion. A sizeable chunk of the lyrics speak to issues of race, and growing up in southern California I can assure you there’s plenty to be angry about with regards to race, even in a place that fancies itself as progressive on these kinds of issues. You’d have to be in denial to honestly believe that there aren’t serious problems left to fix, or that Rebolledo’s anger is unwarranted or misguided.

Focusing on what I can speak to; ‘Tierra Y Libertad’ mines its influences from some pretty rich veins, between its hardcore leanings, Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, and perhaps most interestingly Morgion circa ‘Solinari’ on album closer ‘El Vacío’; they’ve claimed a plot of land on the metal landscape that’s sure to yield plenty more gold in the future, and while this album might not be quite at the level of an album of the year, they’ve planted seeds with this album that are likely going to yield even sweeter fruit in the future.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a CD/LP copy here.

For more information: