Despite the fact that we metalheads have endless information at our fingertips these days, most people remain dimly unaware that Brazil has a brilliant metal scene and, you know, not just Sepultura. Particularly great at producing top-notch extreme and underground bands, this South American nation are as passionate about metal as any country on earth, and here are ten of the finest bands to emerge from their sun-battered streets over the last few decades.
Thanks to the fact that 1987 debut Campo De Extermino unflinchingly explored the sickening horror of Nazi concentration camps during World War II, Holocausto are easily Brazil’s most controversial metal band. But if you like filthy, balls-out thrash in the vein of Slayer, Possessed and Kreator, the Belo Horizonte crew are hard to beat.
Mainstays of the Brazilian thrash scene, Sao Paulo’s Torture Squad have been making a high velocity racket since 1990 and have done more than most of their native countrymen to break onto the international stage. 2001’s The Unholy Spell album is a particular highlight of a vicious and uncompromising catalogue.
Brazil’s metal scene may appear to be dominated by extreme acts, but Hibria’s imperious blend of old school bluster and fiery, state-of-the-art speed metal aggression have earned them a sizeable international fan base, most notably in Japan. Check out the glorious Blinded By Tokyo live album to hear the Porto Alegre quintet in action.
Purveyors of vicious blackened thrash since 1985, Chakal remain largely unknown outside of Brazil, but they could easily have followed in Sepultura’s footsteps. 1987’s Abominable Anno Domini album is a particularly great example of this band’s marauding, hateful attack. Bonus fact: vocalist Vladimir Korg wrote the lyrics to Sepultura’s To The Wall (from 1987’s Schizophrenia).
Another band from Porto Alegre, Rebaelliun have made a huge contribution to the reputation of Brazilian death metal, despite disappearing for over a decade between second album Annihilation and this year’s ferocious Hell’s Decrees. For fans of pure and potent death metal with tons of frenzied blasting, it really doesn’t get much better.
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Simply one of the most celebrated progressive power metal bands on the planet, Angra are mind-blowing virtuosos with an eight-album catalogue to their credit. Guitarist Kiko Loureiro is now better known as Dave Mustaine’s six-string foil in Megadeth, but Angra are more than successful enough in their own right, particularly in Japan where their last album Secret Garden hit the top 20.
The undisputed kings of Brazilian death metal, Krisiun are renowned for the terrifying muscularity of their wild, percussive onslaught and the fact that the trio are all brothers. A quarter of a century into their career, they are still harder, heavier and faster than most and few death metal bands have such immense presence on stage. Krisiun fucking rule.
Inspired by Celtic Frost and Slayer, Sarcófago were the first true representatives of the burgeoning black metal movement when they released their now seminal I.N.R.I. debut in 1987. Horribly raw and chaotic but utterly thrilling, it remains one of the great underground metal benchmarks and exerted a vast influence on the fledgling Norwegian scene of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. None more grim, none more awesome.
Ratos De Porão/R.D.P
Masters of politically supercharged crossover thrashcore, Ratos de Porão (“Basement rats”) have been making an unholy din since 1981 and are routinely cited as a significant influence on the thrash scene that erupted from Brazil in the mid ’80s. Best known for Brasil and Anarkophobia, both released by Roadrunner Records, they are true unsung heroes of South American extremity.
It could hardly be anyone else, could it? From the pioneering thrash of Schizophrenia and Beneath The Remains to the groundbreaking groove metal experiments of Chaos AD and Roots through to the often criminally underrated efforts of the Derrick Green era, Sepultura have flown the flag for Brazilian metal with more class and power than anyone else. And thus, we will always salute them.