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Although often put into the same category, none of the early Brazilian extreme metal bands had the same thrash/death/black metal ratio and in Expulser’s case, we’re talking about a band that leans more towards the black/death metal side of things and you thought that Sarcófago‘s I.N.R.I. could have done with some fine measurements here and there and wouldn’t mind with an additional dose of thrash metal injected, this may be exactly what you look for. While the blasphemous intentions feel similar, Expulser differentiate with their far superior approach; resulting into a vile, yet developed album that has an undeniable Brazilian feel to it.
Like a tsunami of anti-religious hatred, The Unholy One owes a lot to its furious, well-timed blasts and viciously elaborated guitar work. The reason why I say elaborated is because there are more details to the guitar chops that one might expect from a band like this. Riffs recall Sepultura’s cleaned-up thrashing era, a variety of bludgeoning trickery that would have made Sarcófago proud and also some of Morbid Angel’s twisted tremolos. Blastbeats come and go, but they intensify the mood instead of distracting the listener from anything else, while spitting howls and deeper belly-growls are the cherry on this disgusting cake.
More importantly, The Unholy One manages to stick as the songwriting feels clearly inspired and I’ll even argue that Expulser pull off the I.N.R.I.-esque black metal style better than Sarcófago themselves. Songs range from the 3 to the 5 minute mark and allow the band to execute a variety of ideas without turning them into unnecessary riff-salads, nor does the album result into a non-stop assault on your senses. Just hear how “Praise to the Almighty God” introduces the band’s ear for melody that’s never lost between the amount of blasting, vile vocals and assaulting guitar chops. The band never blast into the hemisphere without purpose and even when Expulser start to lean more towards the thrash metal spectrum, as they do circa “Screams of Delight”, things pay off. Clever mid-paced thrash rhythms cut between the filthier licks here, while the sci-fi keys at the end make an amusing addition to finish things off with.
I’ll admit that The Unholy One lacks some extreme memorability to it, but in general it makes a fine listen anyway. Only “Gore Pussy” doesn’t offer much to the filthy table, as it lacks some of the catchy, yet intense riff-mania that you can get from the surrounding songs, even if that mysterious keyboard passage circa the slower pace ends up somewhat interesting. Remaining songs run together to a certain degree, but manage to keep me hooked nonetheless, as there’s always something to keep you hooked with. Tunes like “Praise the Almighty God” and “Fornication” feature some oppressive riffs of enormous force that Trey Azagthoth could have come up with, yet Expulser realize the art of referential writing and manage to use inspiration as an advantage. “Christ’s Saga” explodes into that whirlwind of a riff after a few seconds but Expulser never rely on this more-is-more-mentality and thus, you end up with a catchy riff-monster that could only originate from Brazil. Even “The Slut” manages to redeem itself after a slow and dull introduction; not to mention that it features the most out-of-the-box present on the album; it’s that foggy black metal riff hidden between the caustic series of riffs that almost has a Norwegian feel to it.
When compared to what the earlier Brazilian extreme metal bands were up to in the early 90’s, it’s easy to see why Expulser’s The Unholy One remains one of the best albums from that era. Sarcófago maturity paid off, as The Laws of Scourge had proven; Vulcano had basically become irrelevant and Sepultura were thrashing on their last legs (albeit not with satisfying results, if I may so). Expulser’s The Unholy One might have been released somewhat late, but it’s certainly recommended to anyone who’s into the primal works of those aforementioned bands.
Release date: 1992
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