Album Review – Vulcano / Eye In Hell (2020)

A hellish and incendiary fusion of Thrash, Death and Black Metal blasted by an obstinate veteran squad from Brazil that loves extreme music above all things.

Forged in the distant year of 1981 under the name Astaroth in the fires of Santos, a coastal city in southern Brazil’s São Paulo state, Black, Death and Thrash Metal veterans Vulcano are back in action with a brand new album titled Eye In Hell. Produced by the band’s own guitarist Zhema Rodero together with Ivan Pelliciotti at O Beco Estúdio in Curitiba, Brazil and featuring a classic artwork by Italian artist Roberto Toderico (Paganizer, Pestilence, Sodom, Tygers Of Pan Tang), the album is a bold statement by this five-piece act comprised of vocalist Luiz Carlos Louzada, guitarists Zhema Rodero and Gerson Fajardo, bassist Carlos Diaz and drummer Bruno Conrado, proving why not only they were one of the first influences for their countrymen Sepultura, but also why they attained together with other fellow Brazilian bands like Sarcófago and Mutilator a worldwide cult legend status among some of the most extreme practitioners in heavy music, Norway’s feared Black Metal inner circle of the early 90’s.

And the band begins smashing our heads mercilessly in Bride of Satan with their old school Thrash Metal infused with Death Metal elements, with Bruno sounding insane on drums while Zhema and Gerson give a lecture in shredding. I must say this tune is a fantastic welcome card by Vulcano, and there’s still a lot more to come in the form of an avalanche of scorching riffs and crushing beats in Cursed Babylon, spearheaded by Luiz Carlos and his aggressive roars, and ending in a frantic and violent Slayer-inspired manner for our total delectation. There’s no time to breathe as they fire another bestial tune entitled Evil Empire, where Carlos’ rumbling bass and Bruno’s blast beats bring groove and rage to the musicality. In other words, it’s pure old school extreme music spiced up by the crisp riffs and solos by the band’s guitar duo; and blending the most furious elements from Thrash and Death Metal the band offers us all the wicked Struggling Beside Satan, where Luiz sounds even more demented on vocals while the rest of the band hammers their instruments with sheer brutality from start to finish.

Following the same Bay Area Thrash pattern as its predecessors, Sinister Road is a fantastic option for slamming into the circle pit like a maniac or for some sick headbanging, with Zhema and Gerson being on absolute fire with their stringed axes, whereas in Devil Bloody Banquet the band once again shows they’re never tired of delivering fast and furious metal to the masses. Not only all band members are ruthless with their respective instruments, but if you’re a fan of the early days of Slayer and Exodus you must listen to this excellent composition. Then Bruno doesn’t stop pounding his drums not even for a single second in Sirens of Destruction, another demolishing creation by Vulcano with highlights to the amazing sync between the guitar riffs and Carlos’ groovy bass punches, followed by Dealer of My Curse, a brutal and very melodic hybrid between old school Thrash Metal and contemporary Groove Metal where the amazing riffage by both Zhema and Gerson makes sure the energy level doesn’t go down at all, keeping their music absolutely far from being obsolete or flat.

Rev up your engines as Vulcano are about to kill in the berserk Mysteries of the Black Book, a demolishing aria of thrash where Luiz leads the horde with his rabid roars, not to mention the insanity flowing from their riffs and demented drumming, while Inferno sounds and feels like their personal tribute to all things Thrash Metal, with Carlos and Bruno making the earth tremble with their rumbling weapons. Put differently, don’t waste a single second and go crush your skull into the pit together with the Vulcano boys. In Cybernetic Beast the band gives another lesson in shredding and brutality, showcasing the band’s guitarists’ dexterity while maintaining their core violence intact, followed by When the Days Falls, the second to last song in the album, leaning towards classic Black Metal and sounding heavier than its predecessors (albeit not as fiery nor  as exciting), with Luiz bursting his lungs screaming. Lastly, closing the album the band offers our avid ears the title-track Eye in Hell, pulverizing our senses while Luiz sounds infernal on vocals. Furthermore, it’s interesting how they managed to add elements from Doom, Stoner and Southern Metal to their classic sound, and the final result is not only awesome but also extremely sharp and vile.

There’s an infinite number of locations where you can purchase Eye In Hell in different formats, including TargetShop (CD and vinyl), Nuclear Blast (CD and vinyl), Season of Mist (CD and vinyl), Record Shop X (CD and vinyl), Apple Music and Amazon, and don’t forget to give the band a shout on Facebook and to stream their flammable music on Spotify. One might be asking how a band like Vulcano has managed to survive for so many decades in the underground scene, against all odds, never giving up nor selling out, and the answer to that is quite simple. They love Thrash, Death and Black Metal from the bottom of their hearts, with their new album Eye In Hell perfectly depicting all that passion, obstinance and electricity, and that’s all we always ask for in heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Struggling Beside Satan, Sinister Road, Mysteries of the Black Book and Inferno.

Worst moments of the album: When the Days Falls.

Released in 2020 Mighty Music

Track listing
1. Bride of Satan 3:25
2. Cursed Babylon 2:57
3. Evil Empire 3:15
4. Struggling Beside Satan 2:56
5. Sinister Road 3:14
6. Devil Bloody Banquet 2:53
7. Sirens of Destruction 3:35
8. Dealer of My Curse 3:50
9. Mysteries of the Black Book 2:45
10. Inferno 3:14
11. Cybernetic Beast 3:29
12. When the Days Falls 2:59
13. Eye in Hell 4:07

Band members
Luiz Carlos Louzada – vocals
Zhema Rodero – guitar
Gerson Fajardo – guitar
Carlos Diaz – bass
Bruno Conrado – drums

Album Review – Quilombo / Itankale EP (2019)

The history and evolution of Afro-descendants told by the black hands of a ruthless Death Metal and Grindcore unity from Brazil.

Formed in 2018 by drummer and vocalist Panda Reis (Oligarquia, Armagedom, Brigada do Ódio, Heresia 666), who’s also involved in several amazing endeavors such as an educational and cultural project named Coyote Vive, and guitarist and bassist Allan Kallid (Oligarquia) in São Paulo, the most populous city in Brazil and one of the biggest cities in the world, Death Metal/Grindcore unity Quilombo is among us to tell the evolution of Afro-descendants all over the world as well as the technological history from the African continent in their debut EP, entitled Itankale. Their main objective with Itankale is not political, though, but to unveil the truth about the African slaves taken from their homelands, from their people and from their culture to live a new reality in Brazil, the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery, using the most underground of all music styles, our relentless Heavy Metal, as the perfect soundtrack for their speech.

Featuring an impactful artwork by Brazilian artist Artur Fontenelle, showing some of the greatest icons in the African-American history, and recorded and mixed at O Beco Estudio, Itankale is the voice of the voiceless, telling the history of slavery from the standpoint of the slaves themselves, who were discriminated, persecuted, tortured, raped and killed, but that never gave up, surviving an endless period of pain in the hands of the white man. Furthermore, according to Panda and Allan themselves, Quilombo are not trying to generate any controversy, fights or turmoil with other people, but to provide the view of those who were not allowed to write or speak to anyone about their reality. Based on historical sources that have been ignored until now purely due to ideological and political issues to maintain the status quo, Quilombo will crush your senses with their visceral Death Metal in Itankale, writing with their own black hands about all the suffering and sorrow that haunted the souls of their African ancestors for centuries.

In the opening track, simply titled Melanina (or “melanin” in English), we already face an intro that’s completely different from everything you might have ever heard, showcasing intonations and vocalizations inspired by the African culture before exploding into a sonic devastation overflowing rebelliousness and rage, led by Panda’s demented drumming and sick growls while Allan cuts our skin deep with his riffs. Put differently, this is one of those songs that will leave a mark on your psyche, sounding very unique and raw like the music found in Sepultura’s masterpiece Roots. Ancestralidade (“ancestry”) is another song with an eccentric intro that morphs into a carnivorous feast of Death Metal where Panda smashes his drums like a beast, also vociferating the song’s austere lyrics deeply and rabidly and with guest Binho Gerônimo bringing an extra kick to the music with his tribal percussion, followed by Treze Nações (“thirteen nations”), showcasing a capoeira-inspired intro and of course sheer savagery in the form of Death Metal and Grindcore, sounding as fast and heavy as it can be. Needless to say, Panda shows no mercy for his drums while Allan is on fire with his riffs, with their already violent musicality being effectively spiced up by guest Guilherme Sorbello’s deranged vocals.

Once again paying a powerful tribute to their Africa roots and their music, Descendentes de Reis (“descendants of kings”) reminds me of some of the most brutal creations by their countrymen Ratos de Porão, which obviously translates into awesomeness, whereas in Semideusas (“demigods”) it’s time to talk (and growl) about the importance of women in the African culture, flirting with old school Punk Rock. In addition, the wicked guitar riffs and solos by Allan mixed with Panda’s infernal roars provide the listener all that’s needed for some brutal slamming into the circle pit. And closing the EP we have Diáspora D.C. (“diaspora A.D.”), bringing hints of classic Reggae music in its intro but again quickly morphing into one final blast of aggressive and frantic Death Metal, with Panda sounding truly enraged on vocals and with its primeval, tribal finale putting a glorious ending to the album.

If you want to put your hands on Itankale, which by the way is available for a full listen on SoundCloud, you can contact Quilombo directly through their Facebook page or by sending an email to Panda himself, with the cost of the physical copy of the album being only 10 Brazilian Reais (plus shipping costs). The band is also working on several partnerships to distribute their album all over the Brazilian territory, with stores like Paranoid Records and Die Hard Records, both located in the famous Galeria do Rock in São Paulo, already being confirmed as part of the band’s distribution list. It’s not everyday that we are able to enjoy such distinguished and meaningful album of extreme music, and let’s hope that Quilombo keep giving a (heavy and thunderous) voice to all Afro-descendants for many years to come, it doesn’t matter if they’re metalheads or not.

Best moments of the album: Melanina and Treze Nações.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Poluição Sonora Records

Track listing
1. Melanina 6:44
2. Ancestralidade 4:33
3. Treze Nações 1:43
4. Descendentes de Reis 1:53
5. Semideusas 2:54
6. Diáspora D.C. 1:49

Band members
Panda Reis – vocals, drums
Allan Kalid – guitars, bass

Guest musicians
Bruno – bass (recording)
Binho Gerônimo – percussion
Guilherme Sorbello – vocals on “Treze Nações”