The barbed and blood-sick whip of the antichrist shatters through every cathedral in São Paulo again in the hands of Brazilian death/thrash metal resurrection artists Açoite. More raw than their many ancestral references and long-hailed demo recordings, the hissing and obscured buzz of their self-titled debut album cannot contain the dark energy that emanates from their depiction of the post-‘Show No Mercy’ boon of extreme metal in their country. Looking back to about 1986 the sound Açoite aim for is not only intentioned in the explosive rawness of their tape but in the clattering, ranting and bestial thrashing handful of songs they’ve written with the old ways in mind. What occurs in the roughly half-hour spin of ‘Açoite’ is primarily tribute, nostalgia, and worship of the old un-gods in a naive but doubly evil time for extreme music.
Açoite formed back in 2017 between members of black-thrashers Hellish Grave and musicians from various São Paulo bands you’ve probably not heard of (Regressor, Harpago, Disgracer). The most clear lineage for their obviate ‘old school’ bestial death/thrash style manifests in an irregular chronology starting with references around 1988-1991 and working back to the 1986-1987 style. This means you’re going to get hits of Headhunter D.C.‘s unsung and very broken classic ‘Born…Suffer…Die’ and Insanity‘s (Brazil) ‘Phobia’ before Açoite start to turn back the clock towards Vulcano‘s ‘Bloody Vengeance’ and Sepultura‘s ‘Bestial Devastation’. There are further hints of classic thrash metal within the second half of this generally short release where the band heavily resembles the simpler compositions of Panic‘s ‘Rotten Church’ era and the rasp of Dorsal Atlântica on ‘Dividir e Conquistar’ but always with a doubly misanthropic spirit. If you’re not familiar with the earliest beginnings of extreme metal in the Brazilian underground there is probably a couple of years worth of homework to do before you might understand why Açoite is a very exciting and admirable work in 2019.
The sound is rough and the riffs aren’t particularly well played or even composed beyond rudimentary thrash, so why bother with it? Well, beyond nostalgia and a love for the general intensity of this type of formative South American extreme thrash metal there is a lesson in controlled chaos and variations on a theme in each of the records I’ve suggested in reference to ‘Açoite’. The sound quality will be absolutely disturbing to most folks and I think that’ll be the major hurdle to even those who’re already enlightened enough to accept shoddy production as a stylistic choice. For my taste the issue with Açoite‘s debut isn’t the fidelity of the capture but instead that they’re almost too traditional and restrained at times, pulling back just enough that they never sound as ruthless or powerful as the classic albums they otherwise resemble. Consider Attomica‘s self-titled debut, which I consider a high-watermark for this style of production/insanity, and instead their references skew towards early Sexthrash and Vulcano; Something messier and still afflicted by speed metal which works well in its own way but thankfully does generally avoid the Metallica-isms that plague a lot of post-‘Beneath the Remains’ South American thrash metal records. Rhythms will resemble early witching metal, include some references to early 80’s hardcore punk in Brazil, and a riff style that often recalls Infected‘s ‘Dark Century’ likely because of the brutal vocal style applied over it. In fewer words, this is old school Brazilian death/thrash demo from an almost -too- authentic point of view; The lyrics are entirely in Portuguese, even.
For a debut full-length it is thin and too subtle to meet the expectations of style from my perspective but if you were to consider it a second demo from the band, it rules. The guys in Hellish Grave know how to write memorable songs and some of that ability carries over well enough that I’m interested to see where Açoite‘s sound goes in the future. If they play around with the pacing of their songs (a la Expulser) and start writing them for two guitars I think this could be an incredible band. Right now they are just ‘very good’ with a strong study of classic Brazilian death/thrash metal. Moderately high recommendation. For preview I’d suggest some of my favorite riffs happen on “A Tomada do Paraíso” and I love the growling bass sound on opener “Genocidas”.
Sacrifice all believers. 3.75/5.0
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