@ El Birimbao, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Review by Dennis Rivera
Photography by Fran Jaume
Puerto Rico Metal scene is a strong one, so every time a band from the outside comes to the Island, it promises to be a great performance and Xibalba’s show at El Birimbao in Rio Piedras Puerto Rico wasn’t an exception!
Vengeance Music & Crew were the responsible to bring this Californian band to the Island for the first time. Xibalba headlined a night full of energy and adrenaline, among them the local bands: “Sentenced to Fight”, “Bajo Presión” and “Los Brothers” did their part to make this show one to remember.
We start this journey with the fact that neither Fran Jaume nor I knew where this show was going to take place. Originally this show was scheduled to be at Red Shield Music Hall, but some weeks ago this place shut down.
It was moved to El Birimbao in Rio Piedras, so we decided to leave a little early in case we get lost.
To our surprise this place was a really nice for a gig. The venue has separate rooms in case you are not going to the show you can still hang in there with no problem. As we enter to the room separated for the gig, we noticed it was a big and comfortable room. Also first thing we saw where the merch tables and the guys from Xibalba were there.
These guys are really humble and nice persons, they were available to talk and take pictures with the fans. The show started around 10:00pm with the first band, Sentenced to Fight.
This is a four piece metal band from Juncos and Las Piedras P.R. with the band forming since 2007 by the brothers Josito (on drums) and Joey (on vocals) also Jose (on guitars) and Gernie (on bass).
This band kicked off the night with a great solid sound and a lot of energy with an old school sound mix with some heavy breakdowns was the responsible of the first sights of movement.
People headbanged and moshed to songs like: “Vaya con Dios”, “Declaration” causing the first mosh pit in the night when these guys played the First Blood cover “Victim”!
This band is known for their positive lyrics like the song “Indestructible”
A really great set, but a shame just a few people saw them, these guys deserve a bigger crowd!
Sentenced to Fight set list:
Vaya con Dios
Los Muertos Viven
Face to Face
Unión y Fuerza
Keeping it Alive
Victim – First Blood cover
As the night progressed more people slowed gathered, but still not the biggest crowd, but everyone here tonight was having fun. Now was time for the second band and was none other than ‘Bajo Presión’.
These guys have been rocking the Puertorrican metak scene since 1995.
The band members are Rafy (vocals), Tito (guitar), Chris(guitar), Mario (drums) and Noel (on bass). Noel was also the promoter for this show. “Bajo Presión” opened a fast and intense set with the song “Brace Yourself”.
As soon as they hit the stage played the first chord everyone went mad and started moshing.
Rafy’s intensity and vocals reminded me to Lou Koller from Sick Of It All.
Noel helped with some catchy chorus on songs like “One Direction” and “What goes around comes around”. Chris and Tito blended very well and are very entertaining to watch as they play. This band got a great old school sound taken directly from their nyhc influences, fast riffs crossing in the punk lines and hard and heavy beat downs that provoke everyone to throw some punches in the air. These guys really showed why they are one of the top metal bands in the island.
Bajo Presión set list:
The Monster I become
Until your last breath
Never back down
What goes around, comes around
Next to step up on the stage are ‘Los Brothers’ who formed in 2005 in Bayamon Puerto Rico.
The band combines beatdown-metal elements with metal very well, bringing to the table a violent and furious combination. This band got two vocals Leo and Ivan. Ivan delivers more classical metal vocals while Leo blasts some guttural and dark vocals giving to the band a unique intense sound easily found on a Death Metal band .
Leo also jumped in the crowd getting them to start the moshing. On guitars Chad and Sergio also known for been part of the P.R. Death Metal band “Severe Mutilation” bringing some technicality and metal influence to the band with their riffs and style pleasing everyone from headbangers to circle pit maniacs.
Froggy manages to get a funky clean sound from this bass giving the band an old school vibe, while Rafa delivers some serious attacks on drums giving a lot of power to the band.
The sounds of “Los Brothers” reminded me bands like Hatebreed, Terror, Agnostic Front and Bulldoze and even more when they start their set with the Bulldoze cover: “The Truth”. Songs like: “Treason”, “No Turning Back” and “Nowhere to hide” created some insane moments in the pit. Without a doubt a great band with a bright future.
Los Brothers set list:
"The Truth" Bulldoze cover
No Turning Back
Struggle of victory
Nuevo Orden Mundial
Blood and Hate
Nowhere to hide
Now for the Main Event of the night, the self-proclaimed champions of Southern Metal, Xibalba.
This band formed in 2006 with Nate Rebollendo (on vocals)”Big” Brian Ortiz and Jensen Hucle (on guitars) Bryan Valdivia (bass) Jason Brunes (drums). This was the first time in the island for the Pomona California band, these guys came to deliver some mayhem!
Also were really pumped to play.
The band members are really humble persons and you can notice in their show, they like to be near the people. No rockstar attitude just great talented musicians with amazing skills with a lot of passion music. There was no surprise that Xibalba was coming with some violent intentions. For this show Jensen Hucle couldn’t make to the show and I hear “Big” Ortiz left the band so, Xibalba was accompanied by Eddie Gallegos. Gallegos is also the bassist for the Arizona metal band “The Beautiful Ones”. The Death/punk ferocity and sludge metal riffs combination of this band is really brutal, the level of aggression turned insane! Nate’s in your face vocals along with his charismatic presence on stage gave the band a lot of energy.
Bryan Valdivia delivered some death metal backing vocals and his crunchy bass sound clearly influenced by crust-punk bands like: Doom really added more aggression. Gallegos did a great job on guitar, and if you are not familiar with the band you won’t imagine he is in substitution of Hucle. Jason Brunes at drums is really fast, and powerful, you can feel the kicks hitting your chest hard, not a surprise when he’s wearing and Exodus “Bonded by Blood” shirt.
From start to the end this band gave a hell of a show. At a point of the show Nate told the audience: “This is your time! This is not a concert; this is a show of family and friends so enjoy this people!” The crowd erupted in the most violent moshing in the night during the whole set! The entire crowd including myself were satisfied. The set was intense and straight forward there’s no time to lose here. The band started with the song: “Black Heart” also played songs from their 2012 LP “Hasta La Muerte” like “Sentenced” and “Cold”.
The crowd asked for more and Xilbalba please them with the song “Red”. After the show Nate asked the crowd to don’t leave the show without taking a group photo with everyone and with this ends a hell of a show.
The band stayed for a while for photos, autographs and share with the fans.
Xibalba set list:
Indeed this was an excellent show! Great sound, everything ran very well and organized.
All the bands did an excellent performance. No fights, even at the moments that the moshing was really violent everyone behaved well. I really was expecting more people in the show, but there were other shows for this day and the warning of a tropical storm to the island certainly affected the attendance of this show. But the people that attended the show really got their money’s worth; this was an awesome gig from the beginning to the end.
I really want to congratulate Vengeance Music &Crew for an excellent show and I can’t wait for their next event!