Headhunter D.C. – …In Unholy Mourning…

by Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart
February 3, 2014 –

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At a time when most crosshairs were aimed at Tampa, FL or Sweden as being “death metal capitals” some of us trained our sights further afield to places like Canada and Brazil which to their credit were home to a great number of pioneering bands. Headhunter D.C. are one such band who built a fanbase in their homeland of Brazil but are generally not known outside South America.

With …In Unholy Mourning…, the band crafts the same type of music it made in the 1990s but with better production it can compete with releases from bigger labels. This is part of the ongoing process by which bands from the 1990s are finally availing themselves of more powerful aesthetics. Folks tend to forget that in the 1980s we often found ourselves thinking, “Wouldn’t it be killer to hear so-and-so with a professional production?”

…In Unholy Mourning… may be the most mature release of Headhunter D.C.’s long career, exceeding even the high standard set by the fertile Brazilian scene. Abundant excellent riffs and arrangements pervade this recording and show what we have been missing out on all these years. The second track “Dawn Of Heresy” follows the introductory non-musical piece entitled “Rotten Death Prayer” with classic Acheron-esque opening rythms that chug into the punky skank beats which made death metal the natural bastard-child of metal and punk during the pioneering era.

The album varies pace throughout, accompanied by the vocals of Sergio Baloff which are likely the best output of his career. Guttural death metal howlings spend most of their time at the low end, fluctuating to higher mid-pitched expressions indicative of reading a piece of prose; there’s no monotone drab cupped vocals to be found here and no need for a lyric sheet. Baloff keeps the natural Brazilian flair to his voice and pronunciation yet enunciates the words so they can be easily deciphered. This creates an unusual vocal clarity in a genre where instruments or some other factor normally pollutes the ability to understand the words. He has faced criticism for making his vocal delivery dynamic in this way, showing that perhaps a large part of the listenership would prefer hearing the same thing ten times on the same album.

Magnifying this idea is the inclusion of the almost PERFECT cover of Thrashmassacre’s “Into The Nightmare,” which is more of a deathrash tune saluting the 1980s pre-death metal evolution within Brazilian extreme metal and although obscure became a highlight of the album. You would not immediately think of it as a cover, as it fits well into an album which is replete with tropes of its region, including the group vocal choruses on “Hail The Metal of Death” which are a nod to the glorious times era of Brazilian metal.

Headhunter D.C. deserve praise for coming up with a rewarding end result after obviously throwing their blood, sweat and tears into this effort, especially in a time when metal is so sterile, safe, consumerist and bland. …In Unholy Mourning… is not as slick and geared toward being a product as the new releases you find in glossy magazines and on big internet sites, but instead this is honest music with a fervent message that has finally gotten the production it always deserved.

One comment

  • Lord Mosher

    Their first two albums 1991-1993 are fucking cool too!
    Call me crazy but I favor their fuzzy basement production of old.
    This tune sounds like a cross between. Sinister and Sargatanas (Mexico). This is total headbanging mania!