Review: Sarcófago “The Laws of Scourge” [Cogumelo Records]

Review: Sarcófago “The Laws of Scourge” [Cogumelo Records]

- in Reviews
Score 83%
Maturity pays off
83 %
User Rating : 4.1 (1 votes)

It’s hard to imagine that this is the same band that caused havoc with I.N.R.I. some years prior. Now functioning as a much more dynamic band, Sarcofago unleashes everything that they’re capable of in ways that you couldn’t imagine and The Laws of Scourge represents one of the rare occasions of a Brazilian extreme metal band maturing into something worthy. It’s no longer a blasting inferno of unhinged riffs and vomiting vocals, but rather a bizarre mish-mash of styles; let’s just call it extreme metal.

Whereas I.N.R.I. showed a young band trying to out-do every other band in terms of extremity, The Laws of Scourge shows a band that no longer has the need to prove themselves too much. You could say that Sarcófago had become much more confident of their capabilities and that their interests changed over time and thus, you end up with a lot of variation of themes and moods. Of course, violent, blood-shedding tunes like the title track and ‘The Vomit’ prove that this band still had a nasty attitude, yet the actual strengths of Laws of Scourge lie elsewhere. It’s no surprise that a video was made for ‘Screeches from the Silence’, which is undeniably the catchiest tune on the album. Thanks to some familiar thrashing rhythms that recall Sepultura’s final thrashed-out years, it’s an undeniable riff-fueled tune, yet fused with airy synths and Wagner’s hilarious, if spiteful roars, it’s a dynamic tune that’s miles ahead of anything that I.N.R.I. had in store.

Interestingly enough, Sarcófago aren’t afraid to take things up a notch with a few dynamics epics and anyone only familiar with the band’s 80’s works would probably wonder if these tracks belong to the same band to begin with. ‘Midnight Queen’ is an epic slab of Bathory-esque black metal and as unthinkable as it sounds, the band pulls it off as if they had written this stuff for ages. From the beautiful opening of surreal acoustic sections, to the slow-marching verses to the loud-shouted chorus and the emotional bridge (of death), it’s a fantastic continuation of what Quorthon was doing in the late 80’s. The other epic is slightly comparable, yet reveals some other inspiration sources that Sarcófago had become interested in. ‘Secrets of a Window’ falls somewhere between the clinical progressive death metal realm of Death‘s Human and raw-edged gothic gloom of Tiamat‘s The Astral Sleep. Ingredients include clinical drums and mechanical riffs of the former and organic keys and big doom riffs of the latter; resulting into a voyage of a song and if that wasn’t enough yet, you end up with another brief acoustic passage in the vein of Bathory’s Blood Fire Death in between (resembling the title track, to be specific).

As great as The Laws of Scourge is, flawless it’s definitely not. As I’ve made clear, Sarcófago definitely grew up at this point and while they proudly embrace dynamics in terms of writing, their hunger doesn’t necessarily result into great songs. With some havoc-creating blasts and blackened riffs that at least sound slightly vulgar, the title track makes me think that the band tried to be something they weren’t too interested in anymore. Comparably, ‘The Black Vomit’ is a brief attack on all that is holy and while it definitely nods towards the band’s nasty attitude of some years prior, it’s nothing too convincing as far as I’m concerned.

History has taught us that most Brazilian extreme metal bands of this nature would eventually start to lose it and unfortunately, the same could be said about Sarcófago. Still, The Laws of Scourge exemplifies that maturity pays off and besides, how many Brazilian extreme metal albums from 1991 are this enjoyable to begin with? Easily the band’s best record, I highly suggest you to go after it.

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