In the big picture of Brazilian extreme metal, Sarcófago were sort of like the Megadeth to Sepultura's Metallica: always playing a hopeless game of catch-up to the leaders of the pack, while supposedly harboring plans of revenge because their vocalist and guitarist, Wagner Lamounier, had once been fired by the Seps, early in their career. In truth, the seriousness of this rivalry was largely exaggerated by the press, but feud or no feud, Sarcófago were facing rather impossible odds when their sophomore effort, 1989's mini-LP Rotting, was released around the same time that Sepultura's third album, Beneath the Remains, was breaking worldwide. Anything but a bad album, though, Rotting simply wasn't groundbreaking on a global scale, and its death/thrash style also saw Sarcófago transitioning from the raw but thrilling black metal of 1987 debut I.N.R.I. and the more sophisticated melodic death metal of 1991's The Laws of Scourge. Here, the amusingly named "Sex, Drinks & Metal" offered the only unconditional throwback to Sarcófago's incomparably violent beginnings, and the pornographic intro snippet, "The Lust," confirmed their unremitting desire to shock. Yet both "Alcoholic Coma" and the album's title track sacrificed some savagery while showcasing their increased technical displays, thereby failing to convince completely on both counts. Much better (and indicative of what was to come next) were the more accomplished, melodic, and varyingly paced tracks "Nightmares" and eight-minute centerpiece, "Tracy," whose moronic title was the only thing one could knock it for. All in all, though, Rotting was a solid outing that kept Sarcófago moving forward instead of stagnating, and its historically controversial original cover art alone -- depicting Jesus under assault by the Grim Reaper -- will likely ensure it a lasting place in the hearts and minds of headbangers everywhere.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia