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With their eponymous debut from 1982, Stress became the first Brazilian heavy metal band to release an album, thus preempting by a good two years the crush of extreme metal bands that would burst out…
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With their eponymous debut from 1982, Stress became the first Brazilian heavy metal band to release an album, thus preempting by a good two years the crush of extreme metal bands that would burst out of the South American nation before the '80s were through.

Incredibly, the history of Stress dates all the way back to late 1974, when guitarist Wilson Silva and drummer André Chamon first formed a group named Pinngo d'Água (meaning "drop of water") with keyboardist Leonardo Renda and bassist Pedro Lobão (soon replaced by Paulo Lima) in the northern city of Belém do Pará. Inspired by foreign hard rock luminaries such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple, the quartet began rehearsing in Renda's garage and, by the following year, had recruited vocalist Roosevelt Bala and begun performing sets of covers at teenage parties, often shocking attendees more accustomed to hearing the Brazilian pop standards of the day. The name-change to Stress took place in 1977, after the arrival of new guitarist Pedro Valente, whose considerable natural talents prompted Silva to take over bass duties (he would quit in 1979 and be replaced by Carlos Remão), and spurred the band's desire to start composing original material, at last. Curiously, their first batch of lyrics were penned in English, but the band decided to translate them into Portuguese at their fans' requests, thereby coming under the oppressive eye of censorship wielded by Brazil's ruling military dictatorship. And musically speaking, while competing '70s outfits like Made in Brazil and Casa das Máquinas were focusing on bluesy rock & roll, Stress became increasingly devoted to playing as fast and aggressively as they could, having fallen under the influence of New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Raven, as well as direct precursors like Judas Priest and Motörhead.

By 1982, Stress had amassed a respectable following and even broken a few concert attendance records in their home base of Belém, but the city's location near the mouth of the Amazon River, far away from the major music industry centers of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, was clearly limiting the band's career prospects. So vocalist Roosevelt Bala (now also playing bass), guitarist Pedro Valente, keyboardist Leonardo Renda, and drummer André Chamon took matters into their own hands, flew to Rio, and financed the recording of their eponymous LP, which, as mentioned earlier, was arguably Brazil's first bona fide heavy metal album. Though marred by sketchy production at the hands of studio personnel who had no idea how to engineer or mix a heavy metal record, its high-energy songs still managed to showcase a wide range of songwriting versatility and very impressive musicianship from Stress, who were calibrated like a well-oiled machine after so many years in the rock & roll trenches. The band then returned in triumph to Belém, where they celebrated their album's independent release by putting on a concert at a packed stadium gig in front of 20,000 fans -- their biggest show ever. But, once the excitement wore off and the dust settled, the members of Stress still found themselves with no means of promoting or distributing the record throughout Brazil.

So in 1983, Bala and Chamon returned to Rio de Janeiro with new musical henchmen, and played a legendary show at the local Circo Voador that went down in Brazilian heavy metal lore as an important catalyst behind the movement's increasing groundswell of talent and popularity. Sure enough, over the next few years, countless younger bands would emerge to carry on the fight, and ultimately secured Brazil's position of strength on the international heavy metal map. But even though Stress continued to perform amid their usual musician turnover (and even released their 1985 sophomore opus, Flor Atômica, through major label Polydor to great critical acclaim), apparently their fate was inextricably linked to that older, veteran generation, whose pioneering efforts during a dark period in Brazil's political history were ultimately buried under their faster, louder, better armed inheritors' overwhelming onslaught. Stress would go silent for over a decade before recording a third album entitled simply III, in 1996, and have subsequently reformed for the occasional one-off show, including a 20th anniversary celebration of their self-titled debut in 2002.