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Bloody Vengeance (1986)

Though not at well-known as other Brazilians, like Sepultura and Sarcófago, Vulcano was one of the first black metal bands to emerge from the South American scene, having quite an influence on the aforementioned groups. Vulcano evolved from an earlier project, called Astaroth, that was formed in 1981. It was the vision of bassist, guitarist, and chief songwriter Zhema Rodero, along with Paulo Magrão and Carli Cooper. They worked with a variety of musicians, recording the four-track Om Pushne Namah single in 1983. By 1984, new members had joined and the band recorded the eight-track Devil On My Roof demo, featuring Angel on vocals. His arrival allowed the band to switch from Portuguese to English lyrics, making the music slightly more accessible. The release that put them on the map was the Vulcano: Live! L.P. By this point, Brazilian heavy metal was just taking shape and Vulcano seized the throne, with their thrashy black metal (primarily inspired by NWOBHM bands like Venom and Motorhead).

Sometime in late 1986, Vulcano entered the studio to record their debut album, Bloody Vengeance. With a limited budget, the band had only 24 hours to record and mix the songs. The result was somewhat sloppy and rough, to say the least. Despite the poor production, the arrangements still shine through the murky fog. Once you get past the shoddy sound (if this is a problem for you), you'll see that the musical ideas were a bit more advanced than most might give them credit for.

The record begins with "Dominios of Death". It begins at full speed and the first thing you notice is the possessed fury of Angel's vocal delivery. The grammar isn't perfect, but the message is clear.

"Rituals begin
Lucifer will be free
Demons are called
To serve the evil"

This track tells the tale of demons rising from below to wage war upon the church and murdering all life. Near the middle of the song, a blood-curdling scream flows, seamlessly, into a piercing lead solo. The song then slows down a bit, going into a mid-paced thrash riff. The song ends with a killer solo that is far better than one might expect.

"Spirits of Evil" begins with tremolo riffs and blasting drums. After a few moments, the pace slows down a bit, with the melody having kind of an epic feeling. This is not explored as the song returns to the fast tremolo riff. The Satanic lyrics are filled with contempt for Christianity. Angel sounds far more serious about this than Cronos ever did. You begin getting the feeling that Vulcano is quite serious.

"The sky burns in fire
It's coming the ritual time
Satan's slaves getting ready
To rise up spirits of evil"

If this had been recorded with the same budget as Reign In Blood, for example, it is entirely possible that this album would be considered legendary by many. The material here is lacking nothing. It's a real shame that the production doesn't do it justice.

"Ready To Explode" is a very short track, blasting through at top speed. This one is pretty straight-forward and chaotic. The lyrics reflect the thoughts of those who were conscious of the fact that the power to destroy the human race lies in the hands of a few, as the rest wait, helplessly. One may not perceive the depth of these lyrics, at first, but to a world that was still in the grips of the Cold War, these thoughts were a reality.

The next song is "Holocaust", which begins with a slow-paced build-up, before exploding at full speed. This track has nothing to do with WWII. This is a different kind of holocaust, as displayed by the lyrics.

"Lucifer will return
Heaven will have an end
Sacrifices and rituals in the night
666, it's the number of the death"

The song features a few riff changes and even slows down a bit for a mid-paced, and memorable, thrash riff.

"Incubus" is next, feeling like a blitzkrieg of the senses. Half-way through, there is a riff that is reminiscent of early Kreator with what sounds like a tremolo melody, buried way down in the mix.

This is followed by "Death Metal". This begins with some of the best riffs of the album. While it isn't a cover of the Possessed song by the same title, the first line is, "I have become possessed!" The vocal delivery of the chorus is almost similar to Venom's "Black Metal", in tone. This song features some evil riffs and bloody wicked solos.

"Voices From Hell" is a brief intro to the final song. This consists of strange noises, like an old, rusty gate opening and then the sounds of various demons chanting. In the background, one can hear agonized moans. The voices get louder and louder until "Blood Vengeance" comes crashing through the blackened gates. This one is mid-paced, being the slowest song on the album. Angel's vocals are bloody possessed on this one. There is almost a tone of anguish in his voice, adding to the dark atmosphere.

"Dark and cold
So horrible, so terrible
My bloody vengeance"

The pace picks up, just a little bit, before introducing the most melodic riffs of the album. This was, probably, the most developed song that Vulcano had, going into the studio. The riffs are heavy and dark, but the vocal performance is the highlight as Angel's voice is filled with evil passion, hatred and a tinge of melancholy. It all ends with the pace picking up, once more, and then another excellent solo to close things out.

This is essential for anyone that appreciates Morbid Visions and I.N.R.I. Don't expect a great sound from the CD re-issue; however, as the master tapes were stolen. This was actually taken straight from the vinyl, which may actually add something to the atmosphere, though it lacks in clarity.
(22 Apr. 2009)

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