The way conventional metal historians and armchair scholars like myself would tell it you’d think the Belo Horizonte, Brazil extreme metal scene of the mid-80’s relied on the shock tactics of Slayer inspired Nazi/World War II imagery to get noticed worldwide but the truth is that it was always the pure evil attack of those early records and the equally influential bands that would be exposed to (and absorb) every riff as if it were ministry from that point on. Among the Warfare Noise I compilation alumni it’d be fair to say that Holocausto always came in second place to the more visual and arguably distinct punch of Sarcófago. but the two groups took very different paths once they’d stop sharing the same drummer. Notoriety wouldn’t wane but visibility would fade into the background due to their drastic stylistic shifts over the years, including deep nods to Voivod (‘Negatives’, 1990), crossover thrash (‘Blocked Minds’, 1988), and uh… an industrial album? (‘Tozago as Deismno’, 1993) beyond their debut full-length ‘Campo De Extermínio’ (1987). Why the immediate shift? No doubt there were numerous reasons but the most obvious shift away from the nuclear ‘deathcore’ (a crossover between death/thrash and nascent black metal style) was the very distinct approach of drummer Armando Sampaio which had defined Sarcófago‘s ‘Black Vomit’ demo, ‘Campo De Extermínio’ and then in 1988 Mutilator‘s more straight thrash second record ‘Into the Strange’. So, with all of the interesting ground to cover, why the stand-in drummer history lesson? They’d brought Sampaio back for the ‘Guerra Total’ (2018) demo after the old ‘deathcore’ sound had been revived in 2015 and the result of this reunion of the ‘Campo De Extermínio’ line-up three decades later is the band’s first full-length since 2005, ‘Diário de Guerra’.
Setting aside the bands history, their influential early days and the rush of hearing them return to their original sound for the time being I’d say it is important to just spit it out: Yep, this is exactly what you’d want it to be in that they’ve recreated their hardcore punk (Ratos de Porão and Olho Seco) influenced 80’s death/thrash sound without being too blunt or purposefully primitive in their rhythms. If anything they’re more thrashing mad as they reach witching metal levels of intensity and quickly eclipse any previous release, the strange experimental metal-punk of ‘De Volta ao Front’ (2005) included. The raw belching-n’-blasting ‘freak out of ‘Diário de Guerra’ isn’t just an extension of their old ways but a viable ‘show ’em how its done’ moment for such an ancient band. It’s not all a skinless tribute to the old ways though, as Side B takes some of that fucked up hardcore-meets-Venom style they’d been messing with since the first reunion as a trio and incorporates it into this throwback sound, it works particularly well on the title track and “Pelotão da Morte”. The majority of the record is just pure nuclear ’87 Brazilian extreme thrash and no doubt folks who are nostalgic for that sound will have already pre-ordered this one well before this review goes up.
What do I think? Brazilian extreme thrash was one of the first underground cults I’d ever personally explored in terms of collection and it was Sepultura‘s ‘Schizophrenia’ that had me looking deeper into the corners of thrash metal. If you’re familiar with the ’85-’91 extreme thrash output of the country you’ll know how happy I was to find so many bands that were full of maniacs who could riff their asses off and every variation was welcome. Somewhere between the first Psychic Possessor and Vulcano records I’d discovered the Warfare Noise I compilation and checked out the four bands within where the zombified, pick-noise riffing (see: Transmetal‘s ‘Muerto en la Cruz’) and heavy death/thrash feeling was a major preference for me. I loved those first three Holocausto albums and ‘Diário de Guerra’ feels like I picked up a remaster of a long lost second album that’d fit exactly right in that space between their ‘deathcore’ days and the more technical thrash style they’d jump over for the next two records. It is busted, though, as any band aiming back to their days as a progenitor to war metal and black metal probably should. So, expect an extreme thrasher that doesn’t take itself deathly serious while still managing to obliterate a fair number of big grooves and even a few standout riffs.
It might sound like a pointless detail but the ‘for vinyl’ sequencing of this album, complete with intros and outros to both Side A & B, does a lot to make the full listen of ‘Diário de Guerra’ play all the more ‘classic’ and intentional in its arrangement. Between that tracklist and the finest cover art Holocausto have landed on since, I’m inclined to set this one up there with the very small pantheon of classic Brazilian thrash bands that have proven they’re still capable of the fire that burned in that unforgettable era of early extreme metal. Having a good reason to revisit a lot of those old classics and see how they hold up plus having a reason to take a closer look at additional Holocausto releases I’d overlooked since 2005 has generally emphasized the value of the fucked up nuclear death/thrash they came up0 with back in 1987; I’m and impressed that they can still do it in 2019. I’m a sucker for classic death/thrash mutants and this is a fine example direct from ancient minds so, I can very highly recommend ‘Diário de Guerra’. For preview purposes I’d suggest the openers beyond the intros on each side (“Holocausto” & “Diário de Guerra”) are the exact right place to crack into the album and see if you’re feeling it.
Desperate revenge. 4.0/5.0
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