California heavy hardcore/death metal band Xibalba are following up their 2015 bruiser of a full-length Tierra y Libertad with new EP Diablo, Con Amor… Adios (which features three songs, “Diablo,” “Con Amor,” and, you guessed it, “Adios”), which offers up little in the way of surprises for those already versed in the band’s sonics. And if you’re not, you really should be, as Xibalba combine the best of Converge/Nails-esque hardcore with classic Swedish death metal. We caught up with vocalist Nate Rebolledo to talk about the new EP (which came out on February 17 on Closed Casket Activities), its Dan Seagrave cover art, and why exactly it takes Xibalba so long to write songs.
Tell me a bit about the songwriting process and how the songs on the new EP came together.
Usually when we write songs, a lot of the time our drummer and guitar player sit down and they’ll spend months mapping songs out. They’re the kind of people who will write a song one day, then the next day be like, ‘Nah.’ Then they’ll write another song, and I’ll be stoked on it, and they’ll go, ‘Nah.’ Then they’ll go back to it a month later. Once they finally map out the songs I’ll come in and go over it with the lyrics. That’s why every record we put out is always kinda spaced out—it takes us forever to agree on a song or two (laughs).
Is that a painful process or is it fun for you?
No, it’s fun. The writing side, I let them write most of it, but as far as recording, that’s a lazy process as well. For us, trying to record… there are a lot of bands that are like, hey, you have to write songs, you have a month, and you have to record it in a week. That would never work for us. There’s only three songs [on the EP], but it took us two months to do it. I’d do a song, then two weeks later, I’d be like, ‘I want to do the next song.’ For us, it’s a very slow process.
Why is that?
I think it’s just timing. Everybody works. The lyrical content, as far as me trying to write a song and put lyrics to it, I overthink it, then I don’t want to do it… a lot of the concepts on our records are very personal. Writing songs and putting them on the record, half the time I’m like, “Nah, I’m not going to write this.”
You’ve got Dan Seagrave doing the cover art again. What exactly is happening on the cover? Tell me a bit about the theme there.
With Dan, we just let him do what he does. He’s amazing; every record, every single time, he does great work.
To me, the cover art doesn’t exactly mesh with the music, but in a good way. You see a Dan Seagrave cover, and you think, this is going to be Swedish death metal. But you guys are something different; it’s a bit jarring.
Yeah, I think a lot of people, you go to your average metalhead and they’ll go, oh, this is going to be a very metal record or it’s going to be a death metal record or something. But, yeah, we’re not your typical hardcore/metal, metal/hardcore band or whatever. It’s not your typical cover, but at the same time, a lot of the bands he [did covers for] are bands we grew up on. So it’s a more of an homage to him and the bands we listened to.
Speaking of hardcore and metal, do you guys find yourself fitting in more with the hardcore world or the metal world these days?
Musically, I claim metal. But we’ve always been very involved in the hardcore music scene.