MADRE DE DIOS!!
Xibalba aren’t fuckin’ around, they take NO prisoners. Combining the glutinous guitar tone of prime Obituary with the bleak doom heaviosity of Crowbar and the relentless beatdowns of the heavier end of nineties hardcore – think Disembodied and the Clevo scene – Xibalba serve up a skullcrushing brew of brutal nastiness. Actually, now that I think of it, I’m also strongly reminded of Trevor Peres of Obituary’s side-project, Catastrophic, featuring members of NYDM crew Pyrexia.
Straight outta So Cal, this is another in the recent run of Southern Lord releases compiling vinyl-only tracks from underground bands onto one handy-dandy CD format for your listening pleasure, and a real doozy it is too. ‘ Madre Mia Gracias Por Los Dias’ comprises Xibalba’s self-titled debut LP along with some tracks from the ‘Earthquake’ compilation CD.
The experience of listening to the twelve tracks that make up ‘Madre Mia Gracias Por Los Dias’ can be likened to being rolled over by a massive, steadily-advancing, heavily-armoured tank whilst being intermittently pummelled from multiple directions by a series of massive bastards. Making it all the way from leading track ‘Bright Sun’ to the closing salvo, ‘Salvation’, is a feat of bravado that will leave you battered, bruised and profoundly deaf….in a GOOD way.
My usual routine of giving you a track by track breakdown of the record is pretty much a wasted endeavour here as all twelve tracks are very much cut from the same cloth. That’s not to say, however, that Xibalba are boring and one-dimensional – no sir, far from it – it’s just that the entire experience is cumulative and better taken in one blow.
The main body of the album is a relentlessly rolling miasma of chugging breakdowns and massive hanging open chords, punctuated by the odd dischord, the repeated body-blows of double bass pounding, and the hardcore bark of vocalist Rebolledo – who sometimes possesses the throaty bark of Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein and at other times is reminiscent of the hardcore fury of Deadguy/Kiss It Goodbye frontman Tim Singer.
The pace is kept to a steady rumble for most of the album tracks, with only ‘Obituary’ breaking into a gallop. In fact, that entire section of the track DOES sound uncannily like the band, Obituary, which is sure as hell nothing to be ashamed of! ‘Obituary’ also contains the most obvious musical reference to Xibalba’s hispanic background, ending as it does with a brief flourish of spanish guitar.
After that point, the four remaining tracks have a subtly different tone to them, which marks them as being not a part of the album as a whole. ‘Cold’, ‘Spanish Harlem’, ‘Cursed’ and ‘Salvation’ have far more of an obvious hardcore influence to their pummelling beatdowns. The guitars aren’t quite so glutinous, being more like blunt instruments, and the pace is a little more frenetic. The spectre of Disembodied hangs heavy over these four tracks.
In many ways Xibalba are the wildcard in the pack of SL’s new releases, being the only ones with no hint of a crust aesthetic to ’em and feeling more akin to something from the glory days (?) of Victory Records, but that’s not to take away from ’em – they’re heavy, single-minded and deadly, all attributes that fans of SL’s general releases could certainly fall in line with.
If you ever wanted to know what being crushed under a tank feels like, buy this and you’ll get a pretty good idea. Now THAT is a recommendation.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson