SARCOFAGO – Still Rotting after all those Years
Sarcofago (BR) is one of the main perpetrators in the evolution of metal music. Together with bands like Venom, Sodom, Destruction, Kreator, they fuelled the imagination of kids that were into music – and convincingly demonstrated the power of raw and brute ugliness. Their first album "I.N.R.I. (1987) (Cogumelo Records) had it all: An genre-defining album cover with a spiky logo, inverted crosses, leather, and graveyard props. It still brings tears to the eyes. The song titles were as primitive as the production, and the band soon got their name heard. The band quickly connected with metal maniacs in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. However, the band struggled with the line-up and with members that came and went. Even so, Sarcofago put out the "Rotting" album late 1989. The album art were considered controversial, showing this hooded skeleton licking a guy in the face, probably Jesus, I would guess. The album maintained the rawness from INRI, and even upped the game on the sheer craziness. The album belongs as one of the important cornerstones of the genre in a key era of metal music.
‘Rotting’ is now reissued on vinyl from Greyhaze Records on 27.05.2014, and it gives all metal fans the chance to enjoy songs as Alcoholic Coma and Nightmare again. The vinyl comes in an ‘alcoholic green’ or ‘black nightmare’ pressing, and should satisfy the fans beyond those that are colour blind.
We got the chance to talk to Joker (drums, backing ´vocals on Rotting) and hear his thoughts on the reissue, metal music today, and even got some inside tips on the local metal scene in Brasil.
Hey, thanks for taking the time for this interview!
Hi bro! It is a pleasure to speak with you about my days in Sarcófago.
So, Sarcofago’s second album "Rotting" from 1989 is due for a vinyl reissue in late may 2014, and its now almost 15 years since the original release date. What made this reissue happen?
I really don’t know …I think this is a classic album … A testimony of a very important period of metal made in the state of Minas Gerais. Many great albums were released during this period and this is one of them.
What makes the album relevant, after all that time?
I think Sarcófago will always be relevant. Nowadays however brutal, fast, technical and well produced some bands may sound, they are not convincing. Bands like Bathory, Hellhammer, Venom and Sarcófago will always have something to teach the new generation.
It is interesting to see the response of reissues, as the songs and band is experienced in a totally different time and culture. Do you see any similarities/differences in the music culture or society that affects how the album is understood and received?
I think Rotting keeps its relevance even after so many years. There’s a new generation discovering the album now and many who are returning to listen to vinyl records and want to have it in their collections. I do not care about the reasons, but I’m glad to see the album being re-released. I really think it’s an excellent material.
Its seems that many bands area striving backwards nowadays, doing the retro-thing and searching for the raw and ugly sound of mid-eighties metalpunk, perhaps Darkthrone being a prime exponent for that. Whats your thoughts on that? Is it possible to recapture that feeling from back then? Is it possible to evolve that feeling to something contemporary?
I think we can learn from the past, always. On the other hand I’m not interested in bands who try to relive the past as mere copies … I don’t give a fuck for this retro-wave … Back at that time we looked at ourselves moving forward. We, Dorsal Atlântica , Holocausto and so many other bands were looking ahead, not backwards. Copies will never beat the original and today’s new bands that interest me are those who learn from the past but look forward. That’s my opinion and for those who want to live in past, go right ahead.
Sarcofago has an undeniable place in the evolution of extreme music and metal music, and part of that comes from the fact that the people in the blackmetal/punkmetal scene in Norway and Brasil somehow connected in the late eighties. Nowadays that may not seem impressive for the kids, but remove internet and all that stuff – how on earth did Sarcofago and the people in the scene find their way to the early Norwegian black metal kids?
We cannot forget the Finnish hardcore bands too. They had a great influence on the Brazilian scene, particularly in the hardcore / punk and extreme metal. The contacts were made in the traditional way, by letters. At that time in my parents’ house we would get an average of 15 letters a week, worldwide! I know Wagner exchanged letters with the guys from Mayhem before the killing begun (laughs). I think the band’s first contact with Norway took place at that time.
Back then, Sarcofago gave enormous inspiration to the evolving blackmetal scene, perhaps as much in the esthetical sense as in the musical sense. Where did the leather and spike style come from? Besides Venom and Bathory and the German thrashmetal bands – were there any other Brasilian bands into this stuff?
In Brazil, some bands like Virus, Sagrado Inferno (Holy Hell) Korzus also had that look with leather and Spikes, but nothing compared to the way Sarcófago looked. And we cannot forget Kiss and Alice Cooper all began that anyway.
What’s the response on Sarcofago and the early albums on the Brasilian metal scene today? Any newcomers or bands to watch out for?
If you like Sarcófago, then you have to hear Bode Preto (Black Goat). They make a retro metal but with originality and power sound. Scourge is also a worthy representative of the lineage of metal made in the state of Minas Gerais. The national scene has many interesting bands that I can mention like John No Arms, Genocidio, Attero, Scibex, Komando Kaos , Certo Porcos , Seu Juvenal and of course Uganga, my band (laughs).
Do you have any expectations on how the Rotting album is going to be received when it’s reissued?
No, I know that this is a great record but whether it will sell well or not is something I do not care.
As for your involvement in music – Any current projects going on?
I’m 20 years as the singer in Uganga, a band that I formed soon after leaving Sarcófago. We have a new album called "Oppressor" due out in the second half of the year and we have a new video clip of a track off this album "War" (War) which can be accessed at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hK1rn6XxywU . I also play drums at Angel Butcher since 1986 but currently we are a bit slow with that band because I hurt my wrist fighting jiu-jitsu. I hope to improve and come back soon! I also work as an architect and present a program on the web called Underdose. During all this time I have been the only ex-member of Sarcofago that has not stopped playing music. The underground is part of my life and while I have strength will follow making music.
Thanks for your time, and good luck with the reissue! Look forward to both see and hear the Rotting album again!
I thank you bro, peace and health to all. Cheers!