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Xibalba – Ancients

by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 21 February 2021, 7:51 AM

XIBALBA is a black metal band from Mexico who released just one full length album "Ah Dzam Poop Ek" in 1994,  which is now considered a classic of the genre. This year sees a new album in the form of a collection featuring their early days demo and rehearsal work. This originally came out in 2007 but Nuclear War Now! Productions has seen fit to reissue it.

If you don't like the heavier, faster and darker side of black metal, this won't change your mind. This is a raw, early look at the hardcore, evil stuff that made the genre standout its early days. With that being said, this is a very nice collection for what it is: old school black metal. Before keys, prog and most elements entered the genre, black metal was all fire brimstone and fury. Of course plenty of black metal like that still exists and there isn't anything wrong with that, just like there isn't anything wrong with the other influences that came later to the genre.

But it is nice to take a trip back into time and see how things were done in the early to mid nineties. "Furor Antiquus," starts the album with tribal drum beats and spoken word. A blackened screams rips through the air and grimy yet groovy riffs begin their assault. The tempo changes around the three minute mark had me banging my head like it was 1992. The guitar solo in the middle is unique and the drums have a stripped down rock and roll feel, signifying the bands willingness to step outside the box despite their more traditional approach.

"Tectum Finatum" is over eleven minutes in length but has more than enough changes and variety in it to keep a smooth flow and focus. The beginning fires out of the gate with bass and guitars dueling it out for the honor of who can play the meanest. The three and a half minute mark is highlighted by bass that straight up slaps and another weird but excellent solo. The band rides out of this passage into other more intense section with more that dark groove and electrifying bass taking center stage.

The last couple minutes are insane and were an early example of the depravity black metal can bring to the table and just how well it can match death metal in intensity. Shorter faster tracks are also in the bands wheel house. The punk rock vibe and structure of "The Crown of Plumes" works so goddamn well with their brand of tribal black metal. A blistering track that begs for multiple listens.

"Return to Outerwisdom," isn't even a minute and a half long but it is an exercising in how to turn a blitzkrieg into audio hell…a face melting, limb ripping final track that ends this compilation perfectly. This collection may not be as essential as their full length but it is a nice collection of their early days and a fine example of raw, riff based black metal.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Furor Antiquus
2. Caveae Ex Cuzivan
3. Tectum Finatum
4. In Lucescitae Tristis Hieli
5. The Crown of Plumes
6. Bow The Serpent in the Stone
7. Itzam Na Send a Storm
8. Return to Outerwisdom
Victor Ehxibchac – Bass
Jorge Ah Ektenel – Drums
Marco Ek Balam – Guitars, Vocals
Record Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions


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