A horrible hack

Xibalba

Hasta La Muerte

Year Released: 2012
Format: CD
Label: Southern Lord
 
Reviewed by Sam Knight on Sep 5, 2012
Nothing prepared me for this. I knew this album was going to be good, but I thought it would be impossible to top their previous work. I was wrong. Hasta la Muerte is a musical juggernaut, slowly but surely destroying everything in It's path. Southern Lord have obviously put a lot of work into this. The production is terryfying. It is one of the heaviest albums I have ever heard, yet at the same time is crisp sounding, without ever sounding over produced. Xibalba's songwriting has really matured on this record. Their old stuff, whilst being great, often bordered on nu metal and was a lot more straight up 'mosh', but this sounds more like 'real' metal and has a more doomy feel, which is in part thanks to Greg Anderson's (Of Southern Lord / sunn o))) fame) contribution on some of the guitar work on this LP. The intro of closer 'cold' even features a lengthy 'drone' section, which isn't really to my tastes (although they fully make up for the intro with an outro which is dictionary definition of crushing), but gives you some idea of what Xibalba are trying to achieve with this. If you were to argue that Xibalba had made the full transition from hardcore to metal with Hasta la Muerte, I would find it hard to come up with a decent defence. You can still, however, mosh your face off to these songs, it just feels like that element of the record is more refined. The main goal here is to create a brooding, relentless and depressive atmosphere. There is also a strong sense of groove also, perhaps best outlined in the songs 'soledad' and 'burn'. I know when the words 'groove' and 'metal' are placed together it usually conjures up nothing but the cheesy, but soledad has one of the best grooving metal riffs I've heard in a very long time.

This albums clocks in at almost an hour, which is rare in hardcore albums today. So many hardcore records just leave me feeling 'is that it?' as they are over in about 20 minutes. You can really get lost in some of the songs, as most of them clock in at 4 minutes or over. I always thought the best songs from the last album were the longer ones, where they were able to fully explore their sound. Some of the shorter songs sounded a bit rushed. It is clear that Xibalba are clearly influenced by older bands such as Disembodied, Blood has Been shed and Sepultura, but this is NOT a band trying to recreate an old sound, but one trying to take from the past and move forward. It is a lesson many more hardcore should follow. Perhaps the biggest surprise on the album is the song 'mala mujer'. It is almost emo sounding and features some pretty beautiful female vocals. This song comes out of nowhere and doesn't sound like anything else on here, but doesn't feel out of place and provides some well needed respite from the brutality. It is probably my favourite song here.

The two criticisms I would make is that one, it seems as though a large chunk of this LP is written at the same tempo, they really to seem to favour the slow / mid paced riff, but at the same time it does add an almost hypnotic feel. Secondly, the song 'flood' is a five minute instrumental that comes in mid way through the album and just seems kind of pointless to me, as it really does drag on.

This is a must own if you have an interest in extreme music. I would say this was one of the top 3 metal / hardore albums released in the last 5 years. Hopefully this LP will finally silence the critics who write off xibalba as a dumbed down mosh band.
Recommended record by Collective Zine!

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