Xibalba – Aztlan

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This group has shown a ceaseless skill of being able to bypass that rational part of your modern human brain and boot you in the chest to being the primal, natural man. In reality, Xibalba are at the peak of their powers here; extoling barbaric riffs after barbaric riffs in an unending and utterly enjoyable four track ransack. There’s this combination of an absolutely relentless streak that the four piece belt through their music but also being able to do so in a way that maintains that perfect level of groove where no matter how heavy, how ignorant the music gets, it still keeps this purified essence of fun.

Artist: Xibalba

Album: Aztlan

Label: Closed Casket Activities

Release Date: December 4, 2023

Location: Pomona, California, USA

Written by Matt Lynch

I feel like an ancient giant being awoken from his primordial slumber or even like a battered old legendary warrior being summoned into battle while I’m writing about this Xibalba ep because can you tell me the last time I wrote a review, dear reader? Yeah mate, neither. I was stoked to see a new release from Xibalba and when I saw it was coming out through Closed Casket Activities, I couldn’t resist. This group has shown a ceaseless skill of being able to bypass that rational part of your modern human brain and boot you in the chest to being the primal, natural man. So far you’ll devolve that Rosseau will write an essay on you. In reality, Xibalba are at the peak of their powers here; extoling barbaric riffs after barbaric riffs in an unending and utterly enjoyable four track ransack.

The world is a better place for Descending Into…; it is exactly what you want from the opening track of any record. Swirls of feedback shrouds an impassioned voice clips, and gives rise to legionary music marches as the feedback transmutes into a curlew call. For our non-Queensland based readers; look those fuckers up; they sound like someone is getting strangled and it’s the exact sound here. A chunky breakdown sees us descending into The Place of Fear, and here Xibalba start putting in one hell of shift. Throughout this second track, there’s an impeccable sense of bounce and groove that becomes more prevalent when the music is a tad off pace, it gives more room to swing the fists and launch spin kicks like prime RVD. You’ll hear how the four piece footslog into the back half on this cut, as it reels itself back and simultaneously gets real friendly with the cymbal bell and open hi-hat before cutting it all back, cutting it back to the bifurcated streams of guitars and vocals. This bisection sustained just enough to double down on the impact when the chaos is recalled.

Death & Revenge looks at some of the groove based hardcore notes, much like our friend Rosseau did with Locke, and sets it alight with sufficient flare. A singular riff that wanes towards the end of each bar acts as the backbone here while it chugs along, gradually sucking everything in as it goes along like a magnetic version of that dickhead Sisyphus’ boulder. Shouldn’t have cheated the gods hey, you arrogant fuck? You and Prometheus can suffer together, bastards. Before the mid section breakdown, I love this vocal line that dominates it and it radiates big gang vocal energy. The image of a sea of bodies, sprawling over each other to yell the words back to the vocalist whose leaning into the crowd. If Death & Revenge played out Xibalba’s hardcore side, the title track and EP closer, grips both hands tighter around this idea and drags it all the way down to the ninth level, through the spinning obsidian knives and arrows. Outside a brief thrash, the final song takes great pleasure in delivering a ruthless beatdown, ending with another pre breakdown bellow that’s going to have the masses roar back in kind.

Part of me wanted Aztlan’s to be longer but that’s some greedy shit on my end. Xibalba rip through another release, and remind me that they couldn’t miss if their name was Brett Maher, and yes that’s a salty Eagles fan jibe, fuck off. There’s this combination of absolutely relentless streak that the four piece belt through their music but also being able to do so in a way that maintains that perfect level of groove where no matter how heavy, how ignorant the music gets, it still keeps this purified essence of fun. Fun in heavy music? You best believe it.

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