Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Xibalba @ Manchester, Star and Garter (01/10/13)

Tonight sees the Star and Garter playing host to two of the best bands currently operating in the hardcore underground. While their sounds may differ, they are united by their unrelentingly heavy takes on the genre. But first, it's the turns of local supports, SWINELORDS (7) and BELOW (7). The former perform a tight set of d-beat rage to a practically empty room while the audience fills out a bit for death metal mob BELOW. An injured frontman limits their stage presence somewhat but a line-up featuring members of local hardcore heroes BROKEN TEETH and SURVIVAL ensures audience interest and they incite the first of many pits over the night. Not bad going for a band with only a demo to their name.

Next, it's blackened Italians HIEROPHANT's (9) turn. Keeping banter to a bare minimum, they allow the music to speak for itself playing highlights from both their self-titled debut and this year's coruscating "Great Mother : Holy Monster". When they signed to Bridge Nine, eyebrows were raised with them being the heaviest band by far on it's punk dominated roster but their output has never been anything less than devastating and, live, they're absolutely ferocious. Taking a base of proper metalcore (the kind doled out by the likes of HANG THE BASTARD and BROTHERHOOD OF THE LAKE) and splicing in elements of crust, sludge, black metal and oppressive atmospheres, they deliver their assault in different ways but never let up on all-encompassing weight.

Finally, XIBALBA (8) take to the stage. Their particular brand of hardcore is purpose made for provoking moshpits and they don't dissapoint. That they roped in Southern Lord wner and half of SUNN O))), Greg Anderson on several tracks on most recent album, "Hasta La Muerte" gives you an idea of just how heavy they are. Having said that, they don't fall into the trap of generic chugging or hardcore cliches. Nor do they feel the need to resort to the needless macho posturing that too many hardcore band rely on. Instead they deliver a set of devastating, beatdown heavy vitriol. Pretty much the entirety of their set speeds by with a few slower, ominous tangents which only serve to highlight how heavy they are at full pelt. Finishing on a furious rendition of fan favourite, "Cold", XIBALBA savage the crowd's ears in the best possible way.

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