Sarcófago is one of those bands that were a heavy influence on extreme metal but for whatever reason have never been as celebrated as some of the other great '80s outfits. It's hard to believe this music dates to '86-'87. Still, one can hear why bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone called this band one of their top influences.

This is superfast, frantic and disgusting black/death with an uncanny (and unconventional) sense of melody and songwriting. Riffs are abrupt, simple blasts of darkness played over drums that are paradoxically both mechanical and ragged sounding. Vocals sound like a more extreme version of Angelripper (as one might expect given the band's obvious appreciation for the German favorites), and occasionally become deep grunts.

"Nightmare" is a surprisingly smart, dark song that sounds like it could've influenced Samael. The title track, meanwhile, is one of the most memorable, violent songs in the extreme metal canon. A true classic, especially the timeless battle cry at the end - fuck Satyricon for turning this song into a joke. "Christ's Death" degenerates into an hysterical raving, the vocalist spewing venom in several different demonic voices. The main reason to own this album, though, is the song "The Black Vomit" (actually from the 'Warfare Noise I' label comp from '86 but included on CD issues of 'I.N.R.I.'), which codifies much of the use of melody for the coming generation of black metal. The spirit of these sawing riffs would be preserved by Mayhem, Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, Beherit, Impaled Nazarene and uncounted others.

This is one of the earliest "extreme metal" albums that actually puts me in mind of darkness and that I'm comfortable calling black metal, as opposed to the various heavy metal/speed metal/hardcore hybrids with extreme vocals from the mid-/late-'80s that opportunistic record labels now try to pass off as unheralded forebears...

Try to get one of the Cogumelo CDs with brilliant cover photos instead of the generic Pavement issue.

© 2001 j.s.