Doom and gloom hardcore.
“We are here to scream fuck you!” – well lo and behold, genre benders Xibalba have summed up their latest offering Tierra Y Libertad in a matter of words. The band who refuses to be labelled have made another album that pulls no punches, and it well and truly shows it.
It’s obvious where the album’s headed when Enemigo opens with a low growl… or is it? It’s this amalgamation of hardcore and deathcore that makes Xibalba stand out with their own sound. Pausa serves as a midway break, but it feels more like a dystopian Nine Inch Nails track rather than a relief. The unsettling electronic buzz foreshadows the despair incarnate that is En Paz Descanse. Blast beats set off the track, but as noted before, it feels more like a deathcore track that somehow made its way into becoming straight up hardcore. There’s all the elements of deathcore – double kicks, chainsaw chugging and brutally low vocals – but these elements are all altered to sound like a beatdown rhythm. It’s a weird feeling to hear one genre masquerading as another, but Xibalba still somehow make it work.
Album closer El Vacio is a 12-minute monstrosity that manages to encompass everything that Xibalba manages to work so well at. Opening with a slowly picked guitar and as toms are struck, there’s the lowest hint of a bass rumble in the background. It may seem calm at the beginning, but ominous sludge riffs eventually push their way through. It’s amazing that such a simple guitar rhythm can turn from relaxing to creepy with only a small whisper echoing overheard.
It’s obvious that Xibalba are experts in their field at this point in the game, knowing exactly when to change tempos to suit each part of a track. However, a major gripe with Tierra Y Libertad is that everything sounds muddy when each instrument plays at once. Not necessarily during the sludgy moments – where a decision would be wholly intentional – but drum heavy beats really should make their way past the vocalist more in the mix.
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Tierra Y Libertad is a strong effort that mixes genres together in ways that some artists could only dream to achieve. That it doesn’t sound forced is a testament to Xibalba's skill, even if, at some points, it’s hard to tell what’s intentional and what’s been lost in the mix.
5. En Paz Descanse
6. Tierra Y Libertad
7. Si Dios Quierre
8. El Vacio