Sunday, April 7, 2013

Into the Void: I.N.R.I.

Sarcófago - I.N.R.I. (Aug, 1987)

Another Brazilian quartet, Sarcófago inspired black metal's style as well as its sound. I.N.R.I. came out right around the same time as Deathcrush, and Euronymous and Sarcófago vocalist Antichrist corresponded by letter (oh, pre-Internet world). This is where the corpse paint style in black metal comes from, not Arthur Brown or KISS (except for Immortal). I.N.R.I. also comes with Fenriz's seal of approval, just in case you were wondering what TRVE black metal was. The band members, however, considered themselves to be a death metal band. It just goes to show. They do live up to the black metal ideal, though, in naming themselves Antichrist, Incubus, Butcher, and D.D. Crazy. D.D. Crazy? Okay, then.

In my opinion, D.D. Crazy can call himself whatever the fuck he wants, because he was an absolute monster on the drums. Up to this point, we've barely heard any blast beats. Skullcrusher (see, Igor knew how to choose a stage name) used a few in "Antichrist," and Manheim blasted a bit on Deathcrush (particularly in the gutsfucking part of "Chainsaw Gutsfuck,") but I.N.R.I. is the next thing to a Marduk album. The snare is sharp and punchy, and he's hitting the kick and the snare together (what will later be called the "Suffocation blast" or the "Mike Smith blast"). These aren't your ska-rockin' dad's skank beats. You've got to admire D.D.'s balls-out approach to drumming, but he did suffer from the same thing that Stefan Larsson did on the first two Bathory albums—namely lagging tempos. It sometimes feels that while he starts a song out with abandon, by the end, he's struggling to keep up with the band (this is particularly noticable on album opener "Satanic Lust"). Out of nine tracks, four are two minutes or shorter, and these quick songs are where the band pulls together the strongest.

The guitar tone is a highlight of the album, I think. It's a completely different sound from what Sepultura had, and seems to capture that "real instruments in a room" ideal that Fenriz is always spouting off about. The tone is pretty light, actually, particularly when compared to Euronymous's heavily distorted buzz (I happen to know that Euronymous used a Tube Screamer into a Marshall JVM800, in immitation of Tom G. Warrior). The technique is something of a combination of thrash phrasings with a lot of unmuted tremolos. Another functional trio, Butcher is the only guitarist, and although some of the solos are overdubbed, it's basically just him and his strings, pounding it out.

The lyrics are, frankly, the low point of the album. If simple blasphemies like "Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, Jesus Christ" and promising girls "torrential orgasms" is what does it for you, I suppose you'll enjoy I.N.R.I. What interests me is the similarity between Sarcófago's lyrics and Bulldozer's, because both bands came from heavily Catholic countries, and both bands fixated heavily on juvenile blasphemies and crude sexuality, while Sweden and Norway, which have Protestant state churches, produced much more elegantly delivered anti-religious material (although not always, and we'll deal with Finland when we get there). The actuall vocal delivery, on the other hand, is pretty good. Antichrist rasps his way through songs like "Deathtrash" and "Satanic Lust" in a way not dissimilar to Kreator's Mille Petrozza, but with more cough and less snarl, if that makes sense.

Final Verdict: 6/10 - some great guitar and invoative drumming are weight down by juvenile lyrics and, franky, underdeveloped musicianship

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