Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sepultura - Bestial Devastation (1985)

Sepultura was formed by Max and Igor Cavalera in 1984 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Their early influences were Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and so on. This was before they heard Venom, which changed them forever. From there, they moved on to bands like Sodom, Kreator, Metallica, Slayer and Celtic Frost. After constant band member changes, Sepultura established a temporary line-up of Max Possessed on electric guitar, Igor Skullcrusher on drums, vocalist Wagner Antichrist, and bassist Paulo Destructor. Antichrist exited the band in March 1985 after disagreements with the band, and moved on to become the frontman of another Brazilian Black Metal band, Sarcófago. After his departure, Max took over the vocal duties. Jairo Tormentor was the invited to join the band as their lead guitarist. After about a year of performing, Sepultura signed to Cogumelo Records. In December 1985, they released Bestial Devastation, a shared E.P. with fellow Brazilian band Overdose.

Bestial Devastation begins with a morbid intro called "The Curse". It begins with the sound of winds blowing, with the chiming of a clock and a demonic voice. This leads into the title track, which has a very dark and evil feeling, much like other early Black Metal songs. The pace is pretty fast, though the tempo becomes more mid-paced for the middle section, before speeding back up. The band, obviously, aren't experts with their instruments, but the feeling is there and that is all that matters. The lead solo fits nicely into the sound and the lyrics are quite fitting as well.

"Covering the morbid skies
Like a mist of sulphur
I can see Satanas
The cursed of death"

"Antichrist" is the next song. This is another fast-paced song, featuring a nice tremolo riff between the verses. The musicianship is pretty primitive, but it adds to the feeling of the record. The tempo changes to more of a mid-paced thrash section, in the middle, before picking back up and unleashing a chaotic lead solo. And, of course, the lyrics (which had just been translated to English) suit Max's possessed vocal delivery.

"Born from Hell
The supreme force of evil
To destroy the altar
And slaughter the christian's born"

This is followed by "Necromancer", which begins with a mid-paced riff that slowly builds. The vocals sound even more demonic here, as this song is probably the fastest so far. This song shows more of a Slayer influence, especially in the solos. It completely kills anything that fellow Brazilian bands, like Vulcano or Holocausto, were doing around this time. Later in the song, the pace returns to the slower thrash riffs from the intro, but only for a short time.

"Warriors of Death" is the final song of Bestial Devastation, beginning with only the drums before the guitars join in on the attack. Like many of the early Black Metal albums, this works to create the feeling that you are burning in the flames of Hell. Also, while the influence wouldn't really appear until the next release, this destroys Hellhammer / Celtic Frost in terms of speed, aggression, dark atmosphere and a true Metal feeling. As the song slows down and the eerie lead solos fades in, you can't help but worship this. And, naturally, it wouldn't be proper unless the song got back up to full speed to close their part of this E.P. out.

This shows a very good beginning for Sepultura. Their defining work would come on their debut L.P. yet this is the one that got them to that point. The Overdose tracks aren't worth discussing as that is not the subject, but most won't have to deal with those as these songs have been reissued with Morbid Visions. If you want to know about Sepultura, this is the material that you need.