Murderous, corruptive, and aurally spiteful, the new album from Californian hardcore destructors Xibalba is a towering beast for which no hiding place is safe enough. Hasta La Muerte is mighty, a storming tornado of intensity and sonic bruising which leaves one on all fours and whimpering like a dog but with satisfaction oozing from every pore. It is not an album which gouges fissures to split open the boundaries of extreme metal but utilises its already established tools into one impressive and oppressive pleasure.
The album is the first since signing with Southern Lord and follows their 2011 respected debut Madre Mia Gracias Por Los Dias. The band name comes from Mayan mythology, a vast underground city ruled by the demon gods of death with their music and album the epitome of the black intent to cause human suffering of the rulers of “the place of fear”. Hasta La Muerte is a shifting predatory release which mills the violence of hardcore with the metal essences of death, doom and sludge for a crushing and deeply rewarding consumption on the senses. Recorded with Taylor Young from Nails, the album sears synapses and decimates senses whilst bones crumble before its intensity for possibly the most enjoyable demise brought aurally all year.
The album evaporates defences instantly with the crawling insidious beginning to opener No Serenity. With a bitter atmosphere it gathers its energies to unleash a venomous storm of tenderising riffs, vindictive rhythms, and malicious vocals. Once in its stride and evolving from a hardcore onslaught the track latches onto the ear with an acidic groove to drool over and a droning breath which envelopes every atom. It is a powerful start equalled and elevated over the following tracks.
The likes of Soledad with its downtuned oppressive molestation of the senses and Laid To Rest, a track with slight industrial tendencies initially which evolve into a ravenous and savage malevolent festering, continue the tsunami of overpowering annihilatory intent and energies. There is no place to hide before Xibalba, if their ruinous aggression does not grab full submission their acidic grooves and distorted melodic taunts surely will.
The exceptional highs of what is an immensely consistent album, comes with the following Burn and later on, The Flood and Stoneheart. The first is a relentless flurry of vehemence and caustic breakdowns which captivates and ignites the passions with ease whilst offering another helping of coarse addiction for the senses. With a grinding groove which leaves the ear sore but braying for more, the song is a merciless barrage of barbaric riffs and beats to leave one punch drunk and grinning incessantly.
The Flood is a tribal driven hypnotic abusing disguised as an instrumental. Its onerous predatory shadow wraps tightly around its recipient as the beats with metronomic precision jab throughout and then the piece slowly crawls through a thick mire of scathing energy to salt the already existing sores for a staggering climax. It is a sumptuous and infectious disease which slowly overwhelms whilst Stoneheart is a niggling waspish cruelty upon the ear, its winding acerbic melodies burning upon touch and rhythms instantly barbaric. With the grievous weight of the track holding one down for its elements to flail ferociously it is an intensive examination and feeding of the senses.
Xibalba may not be setting new dimensions with Hasta La Muerte but they have easily brought one of the most thrilling and explosive releases this year. It is a dangerous rage of low slung sounds, rabid intensity, and near immoral vocals which leaves one in a pool of their own juices wasted and fully satisfied.
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