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Sacrilegio (1987)

Parabellum is a band that should rest alongside the other pioneers of the South American black metal movement, such as Sepultura, Vulcano, Sarcofago and Holocausto. This cult band formed in the early '80s but only lasted long enough to produce two brief demo tapes, before fading back into obscurity. However, the evil feeling that is present on their 1987 demo, Sacrilegio, was strong enough to reach across the Atlantic and to end up in the hands of Mayhem's own Euronymous. The reason for that went beyond the darkness contained within the band's music and also included their rather unique approach.

Musically, this covers a lot of ground. At times, these songs reach a blistering speed, evoking a chaotic and hellish feeling that is hot enough to feel the raging flames, right around the corner. As well, there are brief moments where things calm down and a clean guitar provides a truly unsettling atmosphere; something that gets under your skin and haunts you in the worst possible way. The songwriting is not straightforward, in the sense that these tracks do not always adhere to the typical formula. Occasionally, they go off on their own, forging a new pathway into the heart of Satan's infernal domain. The final minutes of "Engendro 666" is a good example of this. The dark and sinister vibe of this material is such that the efforts of most of their peers pale in comparison, as it regards creating a feeling of pure evil. This is not the sort of music that engenders a simple response such as throwing up the horns and headbanging, in approval. There is something, genuinely, troubling about the sort of feelings this calls forth. The tremolo break in "Madre Muerte" is enough to send the feeble-minded over the edge, into a state of total insanity. The riffs send chills down your spine and it is clear that Parabellum is possessed by the same dark spirits that so many other bands simply paid lip-service to. Whereas most of those bands were all image and no substance, this is utterly consumed with a pitch-black atmosphere.

The production is rough and definitely befitting a demo cassette from 1987, but it is clear enough for every element to be properly experienced. The guitar tone is the most noticeable feature, as it bears a fuzzy tone that would not be utilized to a great extent until the following decade. The guitars are thin and cold, cutting through you with vile intent. Thankfully, the primary focus is on the guitar, which makes all the difference in the world. The vocals and percussion serve their purpose, but they exist only to accentuate the darkness that is awakened by the unholy riffs. The vocals are bloody possessed, as well, sounding maniacal and murderous. One can hear the level of conviction and hatred that comes across, quite well. As for the drumming, it is just high enough to be heard adequately, but does not interfere with what is going on. So many demos are mixed poorly and the percussion often drowns everything else out, but not in this case.

Sacrilegio is raw, underground black metal the way it was meant to be. This drags the listener to depths of darkness that a band like Hellhammer was either incapable, or too afraid, to get near. Even the mighty Mayhem was nowhere near this level of evil, back in 1987. It was recordings like this one that probably helped Euronymous realize the importance of creating a black atmosphere, rather than just trying to sound extreme. It is too bad that Parabellum did not manage to record a full-length album, as the band's potential was never truly realized. As for what they did leave behind, if you haven't heard this, it is recommended that you graduate from the beginner bands and dive into the abyss.
(3 Dec. 2011)

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