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The mid 1990s were not kind of thrash metal, though they were a bit more forgiving to the death metal community for a time, though even by the half-way point of said decade the old ways of thrash-tinged death metal were being abandoned in droves. Sarcofago stood in a bit of a quandary considering how commercially successful Sepultura's dumbed down groove experiment "Chaos A.D." was received by the masses, but in spite of the close connection between the two bands, the former didn't full buy into the modernized sound of the day, though in some respects their 1994 effort "Hate" was beginning to flirt with it. It is definitely a departure from former practices, but not in the same way that most would come to expect.
To dispense with the obvious, the employment of a heavily mechanized sounding drum machine has a massive impact on the sound of this album. Those who might go so far as to dub this an album that tries to straddle the line between traditional death metal and Fear Factory might be onto something in that respect, though in every other respect this still has much more in common with the Florida death metal with a dash of lingering 80s occult feel to it. Along with a bit too much reliance on studio gimmicks and bizarre vocal effects, this album comes off sounding a bit comedic at times. But if this is treated as being a last ditch effort at maintaining the theatric character of 80s death/thrash while coping with a changing musical scene, this album does have merit to it.
At first glance, the massive amount of blast beats and machine-gun drumming definitely paints this album with an inclination towards Deicide and even early Suffocation at times, particularly but not limited to the ridiculously fast opening "Song Of My Death". When coupled with Wagner Antichrist's dark, throaty shouts (which are still heavily reminiscent of Angelripper) and a simplified yet still Sodom oriented riff set, this album seems to be caught somewhere between trying to sound like "Tapping The Vein" and "Effigy Of The Forgotten". Heavy commonalities to the former album can be heard on a number of extremely fast thrashing numbers like "Pact Of Cum" and "Satanic Terrorism", crossing the boundaries that separate Demolition Hammer from NYDM at several key points, though more resembling the former save the heavy usage of blast beats.
While a massive step down from the last 3 offerings (including the "Rotting EP), this is a solid, respectable effort from a band that was obviously struggling with where they should be heading given that most of their influences had opted for modernization and became shadows of their former selves. It's highly plausible to credit the perserverence of Sodom and a couple other hold outs in shapping how this album sounds, though it comes off as a bit confused and suffers from a drum sound that utterly clashes with the rest of the production (which is clearly in the same mold as earlier efforts). It falls short of being essential, but comparatively speaking it is a strong release considering the time period and competition that went with it.
Sarcófago had always made attempts to go above and beyond in extreme metal genres, with the influential black - thrash debut "I.N.R.I." to the more abominably delicious "Rotting" and afterwards to the melodic thrash metal release "The Laws of Scourge." This album again breaks the monotony by going into for an aggressive death metal style and has its own highlights that make it stand out as a death metal record.
The first thing that makes this album different than the rest is the use of a drum machine, a first for Sarcófago at this time in their career and an element that sometimes overshadows the overall listening quality of this record. Some might find the continuous blast beats in songs such as "Pact of Cum" and "Satanic Terrorism" bothersome and repetitive, others a compliment to the speed and aggressiveness of such tracks. Not to worry though, the drum machine is not abused throughout the record as can be heard in tracks such as "Orgy of Flies" and "Anal Vomit" where slower tempos and simple yet tasty riffs are present. These slower tracks are good to just head bang to.
The guitars on this record sound a bit thin, but atmospheric. While it lacks in brutality and heaviness, they make this record sound much more evil, a trait not quite experienced while listening to a death metal record. The solos are not melodic unlike in the previous release. You get wicked Slayer-esque shredding or dive bombs, which again, sound complementary. The bass guitar is a bit hard to hear at times. However you can get a good dose of it in the track "Orgy of Flies" with its stomping intro. Keys are also present in this record. As taboo as it sounds, much like in "The Laws of Scourge", they are used sparingly to the point where it actually fits well.
Now you want to talk about the vocals? Simply put, they sound amazing. Wagner's growls sound agonizing and hellish, adding more to the evil quality of this record. They are amazingly executed throughout the record. Sometimes there are wicked sound effects which can be heard in tracks such as "Satanic Terrorism", "Rhabdovirus (The Pitbull's Curse)", and "Anal Vomit" which, like the drum machine, can be bothersome or complementary.
During this review, I've used the word "complementary" quite a bit. That is what makes this record such an underrated gem; most of the elements in this record separately analyzed are not up to par. Put them together however and you get one of the most evil, hateful, and seemingly addictive records to ever exist. I would highly recommend adding this to your collection if you are a fan of extreme metal.
Highlight tracks: The God's Faeces, The Phantom, Anal Vomit
Weirdo. This is the only definition I can give to this Sarcofago album. Well, it’s pretty violent too but the atmosphere we can breathe here is something sulphurous and really strange. The drum machine ruins it, I believe, but the group’s aggression is well fixed in the guitars work too and in the vocal lines, never too growling or screamed.
Surely, it’s worst that “I.N.R.I.” or “Rotting” but, in some ways, they reconquered their original hate and violence they lost a bit in the more thrash oriented, but good “The Laws Of Scourge”. The first two songs are really brutal with the drum machine always on up tempos or blast beats but nothing great. Far better the malignant bass drum parts where the guitars are more evil and able to express their power.
Quite good the more mid paced track like “The God’s Faeces” with a good refrain and down tempos during the verse, filled with some ritualistic chorus in the middle. Creepy. Another more mid paced track is “Orgy Of Flies” where there are good drum stomps and fucking heavy thrash guitars. The other tracks like “Satanic Terrorism” or the title track (with a terrible but fun intro) are faster and more violent. Sometimes, anyway the violence is not enough to make so good songs…
“The Phantom” and “Rhabdovirus” are again total up tempos with better, more focused bass drum parts. Despite the name “Anal Vomit” is doomy! I expected another grind attack…instead…better to break the monotony. All in all, a quite good album, ruined a bit by the drum machine but anyway truly evil and back to the roots from this point of view. Basically, this album is divided in two parts: brutal songs and the slower ones…in this case I preferred the slowest ones. It’s not another “I.N.R.I.” anyway. Now, it’s your choice.
Man, that drum machine is unbearable sometimes. This would be a great album if not for the drum machine killing the overall vibe. It buries the guitars sometimes, and that's where the real problem lies. Other than that the production is a lot clearer than previous Sarcofago works. The bass isn't even there anymore, and that sloppy evil sound we've grown to know and love has all but diminished.
This album can basically be split into two parts, slow songs, and fast songs. For the most part slow songs = good, fast songs = bad. The slower songs come off much better, because the drums don't overpower everything. Basically, the whole album sounds the same after splitting apart the songs into two groups. Of course there are the stand outs such as "Pact of Cum" and the verses of "The God's Faeces". What Sarcofago did manage to keep was an evil atmosphere. This is evidenced in the aforementioned "The God's Faeces". Which is a slower cut compared to the rest of the album's machine gun drum machine. Wagner's vocals are pretty much the same as previous albums, which is very much welcomed. The guitar solos are pretty much the same as previous albums as well, but they do tend to occasionally get buried under the drums. "Orgy of Flies" is another stand out midpaced track with some excellent thrash riffs. While "Hate" has a humorous intro, the song has the stupidest fucking lyrics and the whole vibe is lame. The solo sucks too. I know Sarcofago never had intelligent lyrics but they went from supremely necro to just retarded.
Overall, this is a disappointing record. This could have been another masterpiece if they could have gotten an actual drummer and had some bass presence. It would probably help if they through the song "Hate" out the window too. Check it out if you're Sarcofago fan, but prepare to be disappointed.
Wow, this is so much different from Rotting, the only other Sarcofago album I have as of this writing. On Rotting, Sarcofago played a sort of Black/Thrash combo, sounding like bands like Bathory, Venom and Sepultura at times (Sepultura isn’t too suprising since Antichrist used to be in Sepultura). Here the music is still kind of a combo of Black and Thrash (though slightly moreso the former than the latter), but there’s a drum machine thrown in, speeding up the songs greatly (not that they weren’t fast before). The drum machine is mixed in pretty high and I imagine could get annoying to some people, but I personally like it a lot. It gives the songs an extremely intense, rushing feel. The production is also much clearer (though this might be because I have the remastered version of Hate and the original version of Rotting), though it doesn’t sap the power from the music itself. I’d say that the production and drum machine make this sound similar to Dimmu Borgir’s Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, although of course the music in this is more tr00, heh.
There’re basically two main kinds of songs here. There’re the all-out assaults of blastbeating Black Metal like in Satanic Terrorism, and the slower-to-midpaced songs like Orgy Of Flies, with bits of Thrash integrated into both. One definite highlight I have to name is the title track, which begins with about 12 seconds of piano playing, and just about 2 lines of an extremely happy man and woman singing about Jesus. You then hear a burp, and the man and woman and running and screaming as Sarcofago invade the place. It’s kind of over the top, but the end result is pretty kickass. A couple other notable songs are The God’s Faeces (with an insanely catchy intro riff) and Rhabdovirus (The Pitbull's Curse) [with an insanely catchy Thrash break at the 1:22 mark]. In fact, most of this album is pretty catchy, while not sounding watered-down in any way. I have to add on more points for that.
Sarcofago’s lyrics have never been that intelligent, but they fit the songs well and are amusing to read. The vocals are pretty much standard Black Metal screams, though at times sounding inspired by Pleasure To Kill-era Mille Petrozza. The guitar tone is not extremely distorted, although it still carries an evil aura. Like in most Metal records, the bass isn’t that significant. I don’t recall ever hearing it, though it might be audible. Guitar solos aren’t a main part of the songs here, but when they do appear they sound like normal Thrash solos, though still solid. The booklet is kind of simple, although I would much rather have a simple, easy to read booklet than a booklet that tries to be all fancy and ends up just being a pain in the ass, with the text hard to read and all. In comparison, the band photo is pretty damn unique. It shows two members of Sarcofago with corpsepaint and hoods on. The image looks faded and yellowed, and the band looks like Black Metal monks or something! Definitely a huge contrast from Sarcofago’s earlier band photos.
So should you get this? If you don’t mind the idea of a well-produced Black Metal album with a drum machine, then fuck yes. This album doesn’t drag, and none of the actual songs are filler, although you might feel compelled to skip the outro track (which is just the drum machine going faster and faster, then slower again at the end while you hear various moans and other sound effects). So if you come across this on Ebay or in a used CD shelf somewhere (and you don’t mind the previously mentioned elements of the album), then I highly recommend this.