Xibalba - Madre Mia Gracias Por Los Dias
2010, Southern Lord
On Madre Mia Gracias Por Los Dios, Xibalba lays on some thunderously heavy, downtuned hardcore with a huge side order of chugging metal. It all reeks of Hatebreed, NYHC, old school death metal, Slayer and in their heaviest moments, Korn (!). It's all suffocatingly heavy but in a really good way. I'm thouroughly impressed with the way the band manages to bring that massive weight into the faster tracks (like Obituary) without losing any of the heaviness. Despite the fact that I rarely listen to this kind of hardcore/mosh metal, I 've found myself spinning this album quite a lot lately and enjoying the hell out of it, so Xibalba are, obviously, doing something right.
Harm's Way - Isolation
2011, Closed Casket Activities
Isolation is the latest effort from this Chicago-based hardcore act and it contains a singularly effective mix of heavy filthy hardcore and metal. The album is a seething mess of fury and restraint that immediately takes a chokehold on the listener with the churning noisy power violence intro to Scrambled and keeps that grip tight like a vice for the duration of the album. The music only rarely strays above midtempo (often wallowing deep in the swamps of sludgy power violence and doomy metal) but manages to maintain a brilliant sense of dynamic throughout. The album twists and turns from tiny noisy interludes, to almost industrially tinged metal parts (featured most prominently in Becoming) and old school death metally d-beat hardcore and then back again to chugging moshy breakdowns. The band obviously has a great eye (ear?) for detail, which is something that really brings the songs on this album forward and gives them a stronger sense of structure and an added push, be they churning ominous melodies, dissonant twists or awesome drum fills. Closer track, Pretender, is one of this year's best songs, any and all categories.