Primitive: adjective, \’pri-m?-tiv\: 1, assumed as a basis; 2, belonging to or characteristic of an early stage of development; 3, naïve, self-taught, untutored. [Definition borrowed, with a few edits, from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.]
Nearly thirty years ago, in its initial Brazil-only release, Warfare Noise helped define that country’s nascent thrash scene. The label behind the release, Cogumelo Records, was the earliest home of Brazilian thrash – beginning life as a record store in Belo Horizonte before branching out in 1985 with a Sepultura / Overdose split. Alongside Cogumelo‘s subsequent offering of Sepultura’s debut, Warfare Noise is the above definition of primitive brought forth into sonic terms. It’s part of the foundation of what would be, a snapshot of a scene in development. It’s frantic; it’s full-tilt; it’s feral; and it’s fun. These performances are ragged and roughshod, unskilled; the production is equally raw, a direct precursor to the necro-kvlt aesthetic.
By virtue of fate and luck and talent, Warfare Noise showcased four bands that would achieve cult status based upon records each would record within a year of this, their respective debuts. Now, three years shy of its three-decade birthday, Greyhaze Records has brought Warfare Noise back, bestowing a boon upon all metal historians looking to complete their collections. And it’s exactly that – a completist’s necessity, a museum piece, a dream for curators of the extreme.
Of the four bands on hand, Sarcofago would prove most successful, going on to legendary death/thrash/proto-black status with 1987’s INRI. That record is an undeniable classic, one every serious metalhead should know. So it’s not surprising that their quarter of Warfare Noise is the most interesting. Both tracks show the band in full form, all proto-black anti-Christian snarl and sloppy-thrash bite, with the pairing of the swirling atmospheric intro “Recrucify” and the vicious “The Black Vomit” easily the best moment Warfare Noise has to offer. Still, neither is obscure: “Satanas” would show up again on INRI, and both of these Warfare Noise recordings would later surface as bonus tracks on post-millennium reissues of that blasphemous classic.
If it’s Sarcofago that would later be most revered, that’s not to say that the others are markedly lesser: Both Mutilator’s Immortal Force and Holocausto’s Campo de Exterminio are worthy thrash records, with the former a particularly underrated lost gem. Both bands deliver admirably on their respective fourths of Warfare, the same sloppy near-death thrash that they would each exhibit on their forthcoming full-lengths. Neither entry is absolutely transcendent, neither stands as their creator’s finest moments, but both are Brazilian thrash done well, if expertly imperfectly.
I must admit that I’m largely unfamiliar with Chakal, my exposure to them limited only to these two songs. I don’t mean to short-change their later output, but I simply can’t speak for it. Still, of these four bands, they’re the least skilled, the least impressive. These twin tunes are filled with youthful exuberance, for sure, but the band seems to be exceeding their limited skills, particularly those of their drummer, leaving him clamoring to keep up. I’ve read that Chakal’s debut is another Brazilian classic, but again, I can’t vouch for that. They open this set with some ramshackle spirit, but it’s the others that truly hammer it home.
All in all, though, as fun as it can be, Warfare Noise is primarily interesting in its capacity as a historical document, a study of what was before what is came along. Within a year of its release, Warfare Noise would be eclipsed by at least three of the bands comprising it – while it’s good, it’s a building block, and in several cases, what came after approaches great. Anyone fascinated by the foundations of extreme metal will need these tracks in their collection. Still, as a casual listen, it’s imperfect, and those merely looking for the best of Brazilian thrash should first explore these bands’ finer and later hours before progressing backwards into this earliest effort.
[Allegedly, this issue of Warfare Noise has bonus tracks taken from The Lost Tapes Of Cogumelo release, but my promotional copy didn’t offer them, so I can’t comment on them. Those additional tracks from each participant would certainly serve to further sweeten the deal for collectors and completists.]