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Album review: Xibalba by Seraphim System.

Updated: Jul 10, 2019



Xibalba is another fantastic entry from the ever creative mind of Seraphim system, mixing up his previous heavy album styles with the synth master-work of his earlier albums. Elektro Vox interviewed John Stancil of Seraphim System about the album’s release which can be found here.

Here is an extraction of that interview in regards to the album.. “Almost all of the songs except "Witch" are from me looking at myself and trying to pick apart how and why I am the way that I am. It's my own assessment to my self destructive and self ruinous tendencies. I chose the name "Xibalba" because initially I was going to call it "From a Place of Fear". I watched a documentary on the Mayan culture and they had a segment about Xibalba - their afterlife - which roughly translates to "place of fear" and I just saw it as a "sign", not to be too hokey.”


Seraphim System songs have been added to one of the most famous you tube influences, DJ Wintermute’s Industrial compilations in the past and I’ve no doubt Xibalba tracks will be added to those in future considering the great sounds on offer.

Singularity

John has a way with punishing his vocals in a way others could only dream of and even so doing, each word is crystal clear no matter which way he pushes his voice. This opening track starts off like the guitar and noise heavy grind-core band ‘The Berzerker’ but quickly becomes much more as it sets the scene for an album that draws from the previous albums of Pandaemonium and Luciferium but transitions back in to the more familiar grounds of industrial music as a whole.


Mark of the void

The seconds track wastes no time in keeping up the aggression and raw power that Seraphim System has proven time and again is a perfect direction for industrial music to flow when the right artist does it. It’s a difficult sub genre to attempt and even harder to make sound amazing.

The break down of somewhat more melodic lyrics adds that sugar coated topping to sweeten the track before it grabs you, and shakes you until you start screaming along with the words. This track is a virtual kick in the teeth and never before has that felt so damn good.


Witch (Featuring Ritual Aesthetic)

If Post-Hardcore bands like ‘Bring me the Horizon’ ever ventured in to the world of Drum and Bass like ‘Korn’ mastered Dub-step, then it may very well sound somewhat like this. The percussion sounds like a wasteland savage smashing away at metal barrels in a frenzy of emotion. The break down of the slower verses makes it appeal to a wider, potentially younger market even as it builds back up to heavier heights once more. It will no doubt be heard in clubs in future.


Remove your mask


This is one of those tracks that should be added to your gym playlist for the sheer brutality to keep you going and the momentum the beat is full of. It definitely has the feel of calling people out for their crap. The rhythm is fast and almost trap like making this more of a rave mosh pit piece. There is anger in this song directed at not only the world but the self and internal reflection also.

You want a theme tune to fight to? This one is for you

You know where to find me


A hauntingly Halloween style piano/keyboard introduces what is possibly the best track on the album. There's a lot more of the industrial synthetic samples and sounds to be found here and it flows well between heavy stomping and a sing along chorus of post hardcore style goodness. This track once again shows that Seraphim System is able to combined any style of music with industrial, be it metal, punk, hardcore, or rap Etc. I want this played in clubs far and wide to break up the sometimes monotonous stream tracks coming out of a DJ’s set.

There are many parts to this album that make me think of ‘Cradle of Filth’ and the keyboard in this song made me realize that all the more. This track is fast yet well paced and going to go down so well in live shows.

Tasting Cyanide

Atmospheric in the sense that I felt dragged in to a terminator film, or at least a future set sci-fi film full of murderous cyborgs. Perhaps to say it in another way ‘Robocop on Cocaine.’ The beat and grind of music is constant and intense. Turned up loud enough in headphones, it will rip you from your feet or make you dance to a punishing beat. Your choice.

Saviour

Kicking off in keeping with the theme of the album thus far, the aggressive vocals and ear pounding beats are suddenly given way to a harmonious break down that takes you a few moments to realize your jaw has tried to leave your face. It’s a beautiful breakdown that I’ve not expected of Seraphim System before once again mixing up boundaries of genres that are rarely amalgamated together. You can feel that there is a lot of meaning and emotion being conveyed in this rare offering. It drifts out to the sounds of a heart being poured out and leads beautifully in to the feel of the final track.

Jameson


I asked John about the emotion in this track, and the pain evident throughout in our interview. I was right in that assessment when he addressed this song and it’s meaning towards him which you can read here. The sound of Jameson puts me in mind of a movie trailer for a gritty and emotional roller-coaster ride of a new TV show or action movie with the deep lyrics put over an angelic sound of an almost electric orchestra. Even so there is still that heavy doom and metal aspect to the track


throughout. If you listen to any song on this album let it be this, for it is a very different sound than anything Seraphim System has offered before and it is gloriously profound. ....

Knowing the circumstances on which this album was created I am in awe of how such an album could have been put together without all the bells and whistles of a top of the range recording studio. What John has achieved here is an intriguing look at his creative nature and paints a great picture for the future of Seraphim. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with in future.

Xibalba was released recently on Cleopatra records.

Please support Seraphim System by grabbing a copy of the album on Bandcamp https://seraphimsystem.bandcamp.com/album/xibalba

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