Metal has had a bad run with hardcore. The early results of their union were perfectly acceptable. However, after that first wave of metallic hardcore, the style gained momentum too quickly resulting in a poppy, gimmick based genre that reached every upper-middle class white teen in the West. The reason metalcore is so ridiculed is not because the fusion of metal and hardcore is itself intrinsically bad. On the contrary, the combination is quite natural. The reason for the ridicule is the poor execution and exploitation of a particular wave of bands that, thankfully, is now gone for the most part.
Xibalba shows us that metal and hardcore belong together. The band plays what could be called “deathcore” in a true sense of the term but calling them deathcore would have to ignore the average person’s connotation of deathcore. Xibalba doesn’t wear gauges nor do they chug along on ridiculously overproduced, downtuned guitars. They don’t even really use breakdowns that much. They simply play hardcore with a strong death metal influence. Their new EP is a worthy, though truncated at only 10 mins long, display of their power.
Anything you would expect from a classic metallic hardcore band finds it’s way onto this album. Think Integrity or even Hatebreed and you’re in the ballpark. Add to that the rattling, fuzzy riffing of Morbid Angel and Entombed and that’s basically Xibalba. The opening track is a mid-paced chugfest that leads up to a tasteful breakdown while the track 2 is a quicker burn. Get it? Burn. Because Mexico. The closing track, taking up half the EP, employs lots of great tempo changes, breakdowns, and equal parts ritualistic death metal with classic hardcore. Beyond that, there isn’t much more to say. If that sounds like something you would enjoy, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this. You might have already heard their two outstanding, and much longer, full length albums already released on Southern Lord Records.
If you can’t tell, my main complaint with this EP is it’s length. In an age where physical copies are the standard, I can understand releasing something like this to give your fans something to look forward to or to find a place for songs that didn’t make an album or to simply confirm that you are still an active band. But with only 3 tracks, none of which provide a particularly potent punch, and that would be over before a Panopticon song, I don’t quite see the point of it. It’s been 2 years since their last album, so honestly, I was expecting something bigger or better. Maybe a even live album? You don’t even have to write new songs for that. None the less, Xibalba kept my attention for those 10 short minutes and my angst about the brevity of this EP was matched appropriately by their deathy chugs.