In the world of extreme metal, Brazils Sarcofago are considered to be one of the one of the most legendary bands. They were at the beginning of the black metal birth, and were considered to have been greatly influential to the formation of the black metal and blackened death sound. Even Fenriz himself lists them as both a personal and genre wide influence. While only active from 1985 to 1997 with four full length releases under their belt, their importance cannot be underestimated. Out of those four albums, ‘The Worst’ is the most controversial release and the title considered apropos by many fans who dismissed the recording. Each album had a unique sound with ‘The Worst’ being no exception. In this release they sounded more death metal than previously and experimented with the newly emerging groove metal sound; they mostly left behind the black metal sound they helped spawn which earned them some criticism. But ‘The Worst is an important release in the Sarcofago back catalogue that completes the picture of their evolution. The album has gone through an extensive re-mastering for its upcoming re-release on vinyl and tape.
It opens with the instrument track titled The End. A short track with flamenco inspired guitars on a backdrop of the sound of a waterfall and other nature sounds. The peaceful feel is quickly interrupted by harsh sounds, almost like boss, and then the track ends. We then launch straight into the albums title track. The Worst is very much the usual blackened death metal but slower. The band are notorious for using a drum machine and had been criticised for not knowing how to program it. On this release they have figured it out, with some good thunderous sound acting as a back drop. A deep and heavy bass sound mixes with some slow but hard guitar riffs. If it wasn’t for the slowness this would sound like previous Sarcofago songs. The vocals of Wagner “Antichrist” Lamounier (ex Sepultura) are clear but with a deep growl tone, and are full of warning and portent. Some almost horror movie style synths punctuate to good effect. There is the feeling of impending doom, which makes the slower style work. Army Of The Damned (The Prozac’s Generation) picks up the speed a bit and adds a more extreme edge. The song is heavier and a bit faster, adding that more extreme edge the band were famous for. It still has that doom quality, but sounds more like a Sarcofago song. The drums, programmed by Eugenio “DeadZone” who also programmed the synths, are natural sounding and set a good pace. This song shows they are really going for that death metal sound more than ever, with screeching guitar parts and and throatier vocals. The song is still slow by extreme standards but there is a real beat to it. You can feel yourself starting to headbang. The re-mastering brings out some of the song more clearly, for good and bad.
Then we have God Bless The Whores which is where the sound of the album begins to change. It is a little too long and a little too slow. The groove metal sound really comes through here and they lose that extreme edge fans are after. There is also a thrash influence that doesn’t quite take. At times it borders on symphonic metal which doesn’t quite work. The drums have a marching pace that keeps the song on track. There is a slow grinding feel which makes the lighter tone of the guitar stand out. In this song it is the lyrics that grab you. This song sings of sodomy, debauchery, sex and blood. Its quite catchy but the chorus repeats a little too often. Lamounier’s vocals are deep and growled, they grab your attention and get the song over the line. Plunged in Blood picks up the pace. The riffs are faster with the guitar work of Gerald “Incubus” Minelli really coming to the fore. All trace of any black metal sound is gone though, and the groove sound really comes through as does the slight thrash sound.The guitar solo is more intricate and keeps your attention but nothing really stands out on this track. Satanic Lust is a re-recording of a classic Sarcofago song and brings the album back on track. The drums are a little over powering, but that guitar! The blackened death sound comes back and the guitar has more complicated riffs that show what the band became famous for. The pace is fast and never lets up and the vocal sounds switch up a bit with a more extreme scream being added. This track is the highlight of the album even though it isn’t a new song. Next up we have The Necrophiliac and the black sound is gone again. The pace is once again slower, and the music simpler. After the previous track it feels a little phoned in. With this track it is clear they wanted to go for that brutal death metal sound but it doesn’t quite get there. It sounds similar to previous tracks and doesn’t bring anything new or different.
Then we launch into Shave Your Head. This sounds similar to the previous track but faster. This is the fastest paced song on the album, and it is needed. It is the headbanger of the album and never loses that fast, heavy feel. There is lighter tone to the song which sets it apart from previous tracks. Its, short and sweet, and packs a punch. There are some thrash elements to this song and it pulls you back in. This track is another highlight with a real extreme edge. Purification Process brings back that thrash/groove tinged death sound but heavy on the hard and fast death aspect. The drums on this track get a bit monotonous, but the guitar solos really shine with intricate riffs. There is a sense of urgency to this track, with a building feel that culminates with a sudden hard finish. There are compositional changes and different sounds throughout the track that harken back to previous, more loved albums. There is an outdo attached to this song that is much like the intro. There is synth sound thats almost like a babbling brook, but more spacey and artificial. It is a bit weird after the last track but does work to round out the whole album and connect it back to the beginning.
Over all I think the fan dislike of this album is bit harsh. It definitely has its place as an important album in showing Sarcofago’s musical evolution. I think a lot fans were disappointed it didn’t sound like previous albums, but bands need to progress and evolve.This album gives us insight into where the band would have potentially gone had they stayed together. However it is not surprising the band broke up before they could officially release another album. At times you can tell their heart isn’t in it, and in places feels phoned in. You can tell that whatever caused the band to break up pushed through what they were trying to achieve and held the album back, a feeling of arrested development if you will. But there are some good moments on this album that are overlooked, and some solid musicianship that gets dismissed. Hopefully with this re-issue people will give this album another chance.
Sarcofago “The Worst” is out 24/08/2018 via Greyhaze Records