Like a straight knife fight between Realm Of Chaos–era Bolt Thrower and street-tough nineties hardcore, it is instantly apparent on first listen that Años En Infierno is going to tick every last box for those craving no-frills brutality and nails-hard tunes. Anyone familiar with the Californian trio won’t find many radical departures or detours, but what makes the difference on this fourth full-length is that Xibalba have quite simply written some of their strongest songs to date. Oh, and of course, this record still absolutely annihilates.
Indeed, whilst Años En Infiern does occasionally doff it’s cap to the rocket propelled thrash of early Sepultura, these cuts are all monuments to the enduring power of slow-mo Sabbathian groove, typified nowhere better than on the title-track. Erupting like a blast-fuelled death metal shit-kicker, it devolves into the sort of crippling doom-paced crawl that certifies why slow is almost always heavier than fast, and hell, it’s fair to say that every one of these songs taps into that “Ohhh shit” pre-pit spidey-sense before a thundering breakdown stakes us to the floor.
It’s all bowel-loosening stuff, the band’s unerring grasp of knuckle-dragging death, slug-trail sludge and bench-pressing belligerence brought together, retooled and repurposed for maximum violence. Xibalba remain as uncompromising and unrelenting as anyone in the game, and in truth, Años En Infiern simply demands attention, smashes everything in reach and vanishes. This is brutally effective and monstrous fun.
Años En Infiern is out 29th May on Southern Lord. Order here.
Words: Tony Bliss