Published May 23, 2014Contextualizing and providing due credit to the legacy and continuing influence of Brazilian extreme metallers Sarcófago in a review is not possible due to word counts. Those who already know know all too well. Those who do not, here is your primer: the band formed in 1985, and was one of the earliest to combine the influence of first-wave black metal with hardcore punk, spewing forth a hellish, hugely controversial primitive, heinous blackened speed metal. Nearly three decades later, their compilations, EPs and albums are still being reissued, and always sell out quickly. The most recent to receive this treatment is 1989's EP Rotting, the third of the band's releases to be tackled by Grey Haze Records, who're already responsible for the first North American pressing of their 1995 compilation Decade of Decay, alongside the umpteenth reissue of their hugely influential opus I.N.R.I. (1987).
On to Rotting. The release marked a transitional stage for the band, with stronger songwriting and the integration of Teutonic and American thrash influences (think Sodom and Slayer's earliest releases). Where I.N.R.I. was crude and utterly raw, with buzzsaw riffing and incessant jackhammer blast beats that would go on to inspire raw '90s black and war metal, Rotting offers far more variety in tempo and technicality, courtesy of vocalist Antichrist (who at the time rechristened himself Wagner Antichrist) moving over to accept both vocal and guitar duties. The release is tighter and better produced than previous releases, offering unsettlingly sexual samples at its onset in "Lust" and the atmospheric then battering and explosive lynchpin "Nightmare" as its closer.
Bestiality, necrophilia, lust, alcohol and drug-laced lyrics are sandwiched in with frenzied blast beats, galloping verse/riff/verse segments, and suffocating atmospheric misanthropy. Dripping with hate, Rotting remains a classic in Sarcófago's illustrious discography, an excellent example of a band musically evolving during their tenure yet remaining true to their anti-religious and anti-trend core. Hence, this new vinyl reissue is welcome, especially since it's a chance to enjoy the highly blasphemous cover art that harkens to the sexual and sonic aggression within. All hail Sarcófago! (Greyhaze Records)