Groundbreakers: Vulcano – Bloody Vengeance

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Vulcano‘s debut album, released in 1986, is wildly influential in both obvious and subtle ways.

Even if you never listened to Vulcano before, this sound is probably familiar to you. Low production values, thrashy riffs on the verge of becoming something else, blast beats, and groovy sections taking turns while someone unleashes foul blasphemy into a microphone. This is the sound of a very specific period: the mid-80s, and, more specifically, the birth of extreme metal.

Metal music was never popular in Brasil; the little potential it may have had during the 70s was brought down to the ground not only by popular preference but also by the censorship perpetrated by the Military regime that started in 1964. The most popular rock acts in my country back then were Jovem Guarda, a collective of musicians led by O Rei (Portuguese for “the king”) Roberto Carlos, whose music sounded remarkably similar – to say the least – to The Beatles‘s early career. Some of the most creative artists at the time were exiled by the government. Others, like Raul Seixas and Os Mutantes played inventive and somewhat transgressive music, but none of it was heavy. None of it was metal.

At the beginning of the 1980s winds of change began to blow. Dire economic conditions and popular dissatisfaction forced the government to lift some of its restrictions on civil rights in order to stay alive. In tandem, tape trading culture grew exponentially, with some bands achieving a previously unthinkable reach on a worldwide level. Vulcano was formed in 1981 in Santos, the most important portuary city in the country. It is hard to say with certainty, but they were probably the first extreme metal band in Brasil and perhaps in South America as a whole.

Their first full-length record Bloody Vengeance was released in 1986 as an instant classic, an album truly defining and groundbreaking for its age. Seeping from early extreme metal stalwarts HellhammerCeltic Frost and Bathory, the Brazilians delivered 24 minutes of vile metal music without a single weak spot. One of the earliest examples of blast beats in metal, tracks “Spirits Of Evil” and “Ready To Explode” charge forth with fury. The guitar work is commendable, featuring curb stomping riffs that wouldn’t sound out of place in an Obituary record (like the intro riffs of “Holocaust” and the title track). The soloing in “Bloody Vengeance” boasts the same high level of quality; a personal favorite of mine.

A pioneer record of this quality would not be released unnoticed. This LP is directly responsible for shaping the sound and careers of legendary Brazilian bands like Sepultura (early on), SarcófagoSextrash and, to a lesser extent, Mystifier. Recently there’s been a huge influx of new bands in the war/beastial metal subgenre, with a lot of the greatest representatives of this insular sound hailing from South America. SlaughtbbathAtomicide, Goat Semen are some of the names that come to mind.

Massive regional and genre influence is not all that Bloody Vengeance accomplished. In the same fashion of other Groundbreakers inductees, there are ripples of Vulcano’s impact to be found in many other places, spreading from band to band.

For example, Fenriz of Darkthrone has been vocal of how Sarcófago was a big milestone for him and the Second Wave of Norwegian Black Metal in general – mostly because of their aesthetics and raw production than their actual songwriting. Fun fact: what may have been a stylistic choice for those bands was a real economic setback for the Brazilians, who lacked the money to buy high quality equipment (which was most likely imported from the US) and had to settle for Chinese knock offs or cheap national brands.

Some might view this as a stretch, but some of the most melodic, NWOBHM-infused riffs in “Death Metal” also made their way into the Second Wave, best performed on Dissection‘s brilliant first two albums. Whether this was a product of a direct influence or similar tastes is hard to tell.

In sum, Vulcano’s Bloody Vengeance is a remarkably important piece of metal music history more than worthy of a place on the Groundbreakers hall of fame. This year, Greyhaze Records reissued Bloody Vengeance alongside a DVD featuring a live performance in Festival Da Morte (1986). You can pick up this cult classic 6 panel digipak from the label, or buy a digital copy over at Bandcamp.


Groundbreakers is the Toilet ov Hell’s Hall ov Fame where we induct some of the most important and influential metal albums of all time. Catch up on previous entries into this hallowed bowl.

Neurosis – Souls at Zero
Death – Symbolic
Fear Factory Demanufacture
Voivod – Killing Technology
Today is the DayTemple of the Morning Star
Avenged Sevenfold – City of Evil
The Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed
Acid Bath – When the Kite String Pops
Ministry – The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste

Did you dig this? Take a second to support Toilet ov Hell on Patreon!
  • Maik Beninton™

    I’ve always hated Roberto Carlos and can’t stand his music.

  • Void Dweller

    Now we’re talking. Some kick ass fucking metal. Hail South American nastiness.

  • Hell yes.

  • Dang, those vocals are nuts for 86′. Were there other bands of this same fashion at that time? I am quite surprised how fast and rabid the tunes are for that day and age.

    Sweet work, D.

    GL

    • There was some pretty harsh stuff going on in Colombia at the same time.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrVGx6u8fco

      • All the Medellín scene.

          • John Jairo Gutiérrez, the Medallo scene was conducted by that guy, practically.

          • This audio quality is akin to hearing a neighbor blast Transylvanian Hunger through the walls . . .

          • This audio quality is akin to hearing your 13-year-old neighbor’s thrash band practicing 3 floors above . . .

          • Well, that iconic sound wasn’t made precisely with good equipment 😛 We do what we can in this lands.

          • Oh I know, Link–I know.

          • You know what was happening in Colombia that time?

          • Yes, I was there. Roberto Bolano [tilda missing] and I were there combating the vile Pinochet regime.

            (This statement is maybe only 2% historically accurate.)

          • Jajajaja, Richter, I wasn’t trying to being sarcastic or something like that. (I’m in favour of irony resource, but I’m always careful with sarcasm).

            I just wanted to share this, if you didn’t read about it, so, here I go:

            This guy (Pablo Escobar Gaviria) was ruling Medellín in the final years of the decade of 1980. Also, the rampant crime in Medellín were the real lords of the city. Even John Jairo Gutiérrez was stabbed to death to mug him. It’s very sad, but that harsh reality is the catalyst for all those sounds.

            http://www.puroperiodismo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Pablo-Escobar.-Semana.com_.jpg

          • Thanks, dude. Through the Toilet, the Historicity of metal is resuscitated. The Void is revealed to be both present and living. Horror becomes a beautiful sonic memory of itself.

            (Sarcasm to me is like the sea to a fish. I really only know anything about Colombia etc. through my readings of Roberto Bolano.)

            edit: But I don’t think Bolano actually wrote anything about Colombia so I am a fucktard. Oopsidaisy.

          • You’re welcome, my friend, anytime you need.

            If catch a documentary or a book about Pablo Escobar, I recommend it to check it out. It’s insane how much power he accumulated and how (still) was venerated in the slums.

            There was a controversy about the narco-novelas (soap operas, mostly colombian, about drug dealers or crimelords) around here last year, because we have a lot of crime here. Venezuelan president was even talking about it and national TV stations can’t transmit those soap operas now because he prohibit them.

          • Oh shit I just realized I was confusing Colombia with Chile like the American ignoramus that I am. I could definitely benefit from getting off my ass and learning about what’s going on in this hemisphere. Is it bad that the Toilet is my only source of news on past and current events?

          • Jajajaja, that’s very far away 😛

            That’s ok! Just enjoy the ride.

          • (Note: never say Culombia, that’s a despective way to refering to the country :O)

          • Does not compute. 🙁

          • Stanley

            Link, have you seen the move called The Two Escobars? It’s a superb documentary and well worth a viewing.

          • Not yet, thanks for the recommendation.

      • Jesus. Were there other bands (other than those in South America) playing like this? Or was it specific to SA?

        GL

    • Void Dweller

      Yeah, the ones mentioned above. Sarcofago, Mystifier, Sextrash, Mutilator, etc.

      • God

        I have a vintage sarcofago tshirt! It’s my pride and joy.

  • God

    Not surprised that fenriz credited them as an influence. While listening to them I kept bouncing back and forth between “is this thrash? Is this black metal?” Nice stuff.

    • Dagon

      Sonically I think Sarcófago is closer to early Bathory than to Darkthrone, but Fenriz said that the lo-fi production and the make-up/visuals were a major influence on him.

      • Void Dweller

        Euronymous expressed that sentiment as well.

          • Tyree

            They ripped at MDF. Their lead guitarist was incredible. I’ve never seen my guitarist drool over another guitar player like that before.

          • Beefhammer McPubies XIVIII

            I didn’t even know that they were still around.

          • Rob M

            New album came out last year..”Brutal Aggression”

      • Beefhammer McPubies XIVIII

        Lol, holding back my Darkthrone insults, since everyone’s expecting it. :-p

  • Tyree

    BOOM!

  • Extreme South América merol is the real deal. This isn’t fake, this isn’t made for posing. These are real screams for the sake of expression against a rude society and extreme times.

    ¡ARRIBA SUR AMÉRICA. UNIDOS COMO HERMANOS!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFjIAK4KS2U

    • /notposers

      cosgined!

      GL

      • Nope, this was a rude scene.

        In Venezuela, (and I believe it was Brasil and Colombia’s case) the goverments were very conservative and in any gig you have the police punching and shooting the attendants.

        • That sounds terrible. I would be pissed off too if that was happening to me.

          • Maik Beninton™

            There was once an incident where some skinheads invaded a Sepultura gig and started attacking the metalheads, I think the gig was cancelled after police arrived, I don’t remember the whole story.

          • That’s because people complains a lot on merolheads here and most of the elder are always scared of “satan” because crappy TV news.

            Have you read something about Brujería? Those guys were famous here because the news, not because the music.

          • Beefhammer McPubies XIVIII

            I dunno, when I was dating my Colombian fiance, she always said that the metal scene there was good. She did say though that people at the concerts in Bogota were assholes, but then again people from Barranquilla don’t usually like people from Bogota.

    • Beefhammer McPubies XIVIII

      And South America easily has some of the best power merol!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HqCB0T0h08

  • Tyree

    Definitely check out Slaughtbbath.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDIXhcjFChY

  • Thanks for the history lesson, Fishface. Never heard this before. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I dig that plunky bass.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Dat basstone>>>>>>>>>

  • Guacamole Jim

    I’m going to listen to this tonight once I make it home (I forgot my headphones, a la Edward/Breegrodamus), but this writeup is awesome!

  • I’m going to express my bad opinion here. To me:

    South América war merol>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Norway black merol.

  • Scrimm

    Are people still acting like assholes in here?

    • I’m just here chilling with my people and drinking my ice tea potions. I always behave!

      • KJM

        Save Potions For Later Use. #Gauntlet

        • I never follow that advice #YOLO #CarpeDiem

          • KJM

            Drink all the potions! Use all the things!!

          • I’M SHOOTING ALL MY ARROWS TO THE WALLS, I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN BUY SOME LATER, BUT I’M STILL SHOOTING THEM ALL!

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            Watch out Link! You may hit someone’s knee.

          • Sorry, that’s mostly a Venezuelan thing. We are so goddamn happy with all that sun and palm trees that we go rampage wasting all the provitions. I thought this was a medieval party.

          • Stanley

            Youth Obeying Lucifer’s Orders, right Link.

        • OldMetalHead

          Wizard has limited health.

      • LINK BE LIKE, “BEEACH PLZ, I BE DRINKIN’ MY TEA POTIONS ALL UP IN HURR. HUGS FUR EVVERYONE”

        *BOING*

        GL

      • Beefhammer McPubies XIVIII

        Ice tea, it’s what hot on the streets. *pours a Lipton iced tea for my dead homies*

    • KJM

      I never stopped.

      • Scrimm

        Wouldn’t want you any other way.

        • KJM

          Noted.

    • Tyree

      Just a Volcanic asshole spewing Bloody Vengeance!!!!

    • i couldn’t visit the toilet yesterday. wha happen?

    • Beefhammer McPubies XIVIII

      Huh? What happened? Apparently I missed out on something.

      • Scrimm

        I was pretty much joking.

        • Beefhammer McPubies XIVIII

          From what I gathered, it was that Seth guy. There’s been a number of trollls on here lately. I forget the one guy’s name (the guy who trolled Tapir and called everyone ‘Bitchasshole’), but Joe shot him down quick. I swear, some people are so stupid that I think they’re actually smart about it.

          • Scrimm

            You gathered wrong.

  • The W.

    Great entry, Dagon.

  • CT-12

    I’ve heard of these guys a thousand times over, but never got around to checking them out. Thanks Dagon for giving these guys a proper write-up and finally getting their music in my ears!

  • Beefhammer McPubies XIVIII

    Excellent article! Lol, it’s the first time I’ve ever heard Vulcano and Os Mutantes (who I love) in the same breath.
    Fun fact: When Mayhem started, Euronymous showed the guys a Sarcófago album and said “this is exactly what I want Mayhem to sound like”.

  • Rob M

    This was such an awesome album..theyve done some decent releases since then, but theyve never topped it