I knew it. No one ever talks about 90s Portuguese metal, but when someone does, it’s not enough. It’s true I didn’t cover all the bands, because the first piece I wrote was about stuff that played day in and day out on my turntable. There were other bands that I found out about eventually, and some I even came to like a hell of a lot, but didn’t include in the article because it was about my personal history with metal. But truth be told, I feel kind of down for leaving stuff like Decayed and Thormenthor out, so let’s go play death to false metal and all that. Put on your white hi-top sneakers, your skinny black pants, cut your bangs right and headbang like the rest of your life depends on it because here come the 90s all over again and they’re back with a vengeance.
These guys were from a place that could easily be the equivalent of California if Portugal had one. Their hometown’s name is translated to Wall, and that’s mainly what they did: played their black/thrash combo as if you had a wall screaming at your fucking face. They sounded evil and pissed off and that’s a winning combination, plus they covered Sodom and Venom at a time that most people didn’t even know those bands. They also speak about occult inspired stuff which makes perfect sense since they weren’t that far away from Sintra, which is almost like the cradle of esoterism around here.
I gotta say that I didn’t remember these guys sounding this good at the time, but this shit aged like a fine wine. Sacred Sin are record holders, since they were the first Portuguese band to be featured on MTV Headbangers Ball. I sort of remember guys waving the national flag on their shows but then again Portuguese fans do that everywhere and all the time, so what the hell does that matter anyway? At the time of “Darkside” they even opened for Napalm Death and Manowar, but I guess you can’t win them all. They still sound fresh and heavy and their rhythm section is tight as fuck, in fact I’m getting pretty engaged listening to them as I write this. Sacred Sin are Death Metal and they take the death part seriously since the first letters of each Sacred Sin album name spell out the word “death”.
You could say that this sounds like hardrock more than heavy metal, but it’s probably a mix of NWOBH with more glam stuff like Kiss. I mean the good stuff from Kiss even if under produced, not that “I was made for loving you” crap. Other times they sounded like Whitesnake or Van Halen, so you see it’s the good side of hardrock, not your Sunset Boulevard variety that you can find crawling from under any beer can on the sidewalk. That reminds me that they have a song about Hollywood in which they sing about making it. And made it they did since these guys were the first Portuguese band to get airplay on the BBC, and this from a band that come from a place that has a name that translates to something like Bathtub’s Downtown. I’m not sure if this is funny in English but in Portuguese it’s hilarious.
I don’t think you can say the name Thormenthor without growling and growling was their game back in the day. This was defined as brutal death metal and it made sense since they came from Almada, which is on the opposite side of Tagus river facing Lisbon. Almada has a very rich history of metal and rock bands, and these guys were no exception. They sounded dark and heavy and that was why they even got to open a show for Cannibal Corpse. That and probably because they spoke about stuff like the sins of Jesus Christ. It might be brutal but it sure is technical, maybe in the way Cynic or even Death might be so they weren’t jumping on the bandwagon, they were leading it.
I fail to see how anyone would not love a band called Vomitory, especially because these guys sound really suffocating. They only recorded the demo “Putrid Flesh” which had a cover of Napalm Death’s scum, and then disappeared which is a shame, because a name this good should have made it very far.
Tropa de Choque
Maybe this doesn’t sound that much like heavy metal but it had high pitch screams, crazy guitar licks, mosh parts and plenty of room for headbanging and let’s get one thing straight: this was Portugal in 1991 and these guys were making appearances on national TV wearing nothing but a vest on their upper bodies with all that hair sticking out, macho latino style. That makes it metal enough for me, I mean, Portugal was not America and, well, they sang in Portuguese songs against civilization and shit. Later on, they even got to play on Buereré, which was a big audience children’s show hosted by a cow and the Portuguese equivalent of Christina Aguilera minus the singing ability.
I still have their demo somewhere in my parent’s basement and I remember how the singers accent was terrible and the production was not bad enough to cover it up. But if you want perfection you should listen to stuff on majors, because the 90s were all about feeling over technical ability. Hailing from Lisbon suburbs, these guys were very creative when compared with most of other metal bands from the time. The demo has a terrible sound which is great since it only adds charm. “Noise on Peace” is an excellent track and “Life is for living” is also great so play it loud.
Bactherion sounded a bit like Bathory at a time when not a lot of bands sounded like Bathory. It’s very dirty and noisy but the important thing is that this was the band that became Filii Nigrantium Infernalium and Filii Nigrantium Infernalium are the best Portuguese metal band ever with the best name ever. No matter how good any other band is, these guys play black metal in Portuguese as if it was our national anthem, putting a lot of B.M. copycats to shame. Forget about all those atmospheric Black Metal bands that pop up like mushrooms and listen to this, because these guys are truly Satan’s left hand. And I mean left, because they don’t buy all that far-right/alt-right bullshit that most B.M. bands seem to follow.