DB HOF NO. 095
The making of Sarcófago’s “I.N.R.I.”
When Sarcófago sacrilegiously congealed in a plastic bowl of hate, frustration, rebellion, fermented sugarcane juice and fuck fluid, Phil Collins’ “Sussudio” and Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” were number one hits on the Billboard chart. That is to say, the Brazilians were a literal and figurative world away from what normal people considered music. To dignified folk, they were brash, intolerable and wicked. A scourge to be silenced, or—if possible—eradicated. But Sarcófago were a reflection of their environment, of non-bronzed ‘n’ thonged mid-’80s Brazil, of the incredibly brutal reality in which they (and millions of others) lived when governments gleefully ramrodded their peoples, superpowers collided and the future of all was anything but bright. As neon-colored teens danced and sang their worries away to Collins and Tears, so too did jean-jacketed and bespiked youth break faces and laws to Sarcófago in Belo Horizonte and its adjacent suburbs. Of course, one is truly unlike the others, but they share escapism—even if the Brazilians were confrontational—as a common trait.
That Sarcófago were able to create debut album I.N.R.I. after two years of demo-making and zealous partying is a minor miracle. Appearing on four-way split LP Warfare Noise I via Cogumelo—Brazil’s answer to an underfunded Roadrunner—the musically motivated and sexually charged deviants re-forged their incessantly barbaric fuck metal by hitting the rehearsal space hard. With three songs at the bottom of the barfbag, Sarcófago used the rest of ’86 and the first half of ’87 to vomit six more. Opener “Satanic Lust” is as callous as its title suggests. Unbridled and unrefined, I.N.R.I.’s leadoff track is like a hammer to the dick. “Christ’s Death” and “Ready to Fuck” are equally savage. “Desecration of Virgin” and the title track are also of unrelenting power and artlessness. They were extreme before extreme was used to describe such heretical bedlam.
I.N.R.I. was sensational when it landed in Brazilian shops in the summer of ’87. Committed to tape at J.G. Studios (also responsible for early output by Sepultura, R.D.P., Overdose, Mutilator), Sarcófago had yoked thrash, early death and hardcore punk before it was possible. And they had the image to back it up. While the rest of metaldom at the time didn’t understand, coverage was ubiquitous in the Brazilians’ homeland. A journalist’s dream, really. They were, in effect, KISS or Alice Cooper from the most unkempt cemetery, with corpses jackhammering one another in the dead of night to the rhythm of Eduardo “D.D. Crazy”’s so-called and infamous “Machine Gun Beats.” Years later, all the noisemaking and gash-slaying on I.N.R.I. would have an unrelenting lure on the then-nestling black metal scenes of northern Europe. From Mayhem and Beherit to Impaled Nazarene and Darkthrone, Sarcófago’s inhuman music and fuck-you attitude served as a readymade South American blueprint for Europeans suffering from the top qualities of life.
With farts, flushing toilets, Machine Gun Beats, bulletbelts, and hookers screwed, it’s with excessive excess and reverential hindsight that we let I.N.R.I. out of the dungeon and into the Hall. Sanctificetur membra cavete: Sarcófago are responsible for their own mess. Don’t clean up after them.
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