Each week on ‘Throwback Thursday’ we dust off a crucial but underrated album, without which heavy metal’s evolution would have turned out quite differently.
This week we head to 1980s South America, when and where fledgling Brazilian metal bands like Vulcano channeled all of their third world misery into some of the most vicious and blasphemous heavy metal ever committed to tape: 1986’s Bloody Vengeance.
Band Name: Vulcano
Origins: Santos, Brazil
Album Title: Bloody Vengeance
Release Date: 1986
Why is it so damn important?
Because with Bloody Vengeance, Vulcano arguably trumped even countrymen Sepultura and Sarcofago in translating the sense of alienation, confusion and sheer rage felt by many Brazilian youths facing poverty, violence, a domineering Catholic church, and much political instability following the recently deposed military dictatorship into raw, frenzied, profane, under-produced, yet simultaneously brilliant form of underground extreme metal. So extreme, in fact, that a handful of bored, entitled, but similarly disenfranchised Norwegian kids would later experience a veritable punk rock-like, DIY epiphany after hearing Vulcano’s visionary racket, and take up instruments, inverted crucifixes and corpse paint (burning churches and stabbing each other, optional) to create the so-called Norwegian black metal Inner Circle.
So what does it sound like, exactly?
Armageddon in the southern hemisphere. Or, more specifically, like what today is commonly labeled "blackened thrash": the sound that arose when metal musicians who came of age under the original worldwide thrash attack (Metallica, Slayer, Kreator, etc.) retroactively discovered Venom's twisted black metal vision and merged the two strains into a new, even more violent, less technically proficient, Satan-worshipping amalgam. On Bloody Vengeance, this is abundantly exemplified by toe-scorching, blast-beaten hell-raisers such as “Dominios of Death,” “Spirits of Evil” (highlighting the bass work of bandleader Zhema) and the prophetic “Death Metal,” as well as the atypically mid-paced title track, the proto-grindcore of “Ready to Explode,” and the two-minute holocaust of “Incubus.” In all, Bloody Vengeance’s eight, uniformly devastating tracks amount to a mere 24 minutes of sonic apocalypse – take that Reign in Blood!
In other words…
Vulcano, more than any other seminal Brazilian metal band of the period, stood closest to the cliff’s edge that separates great songs delivered with intentionally chaotic savagery from, well, poorly played crap (for that see the overrated Holocausto). Indeed, Vulcano themselves soon fell into that same abyss of crap with the following year's muddled Anthropophagy, but on Bloody Vengeance, the tenuous balance between vision and ineptitude felt just about perfect.
Key Song: “Dominios of Death”
Both the title cut and “Incubus” are worthy contenders for Beelzebub’s scepter, but LP opener “Dominios of Death” just barely nips the also excellent “Death Metal” on the strength of its memorable breakdown and positively massive slower riff near the end. It’s hades unleashed, plain and simple.
And the crazy thing is, the previous year’s bare bones concert recording Live!, is almost as fantastic and mostly sung in Portuguese for that added, international flavor. And if you don't believe any of this, just ask Fenriz.