Abominable Anno Domini

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Brazilian heavy metal in general had a breakout year in 1987, but this was especially true for Belo Horizonte-based bands like Sepultura, Mutilator, Holocausto, Sarcófago, and Chakal -- all of whom released some of their most influential, genre-defining efforts through hometown record label Cogumelo that year. Unfairly, Chakal are perhaps the least well-known among these bands, but their debut full-length, Abominable Anno Domini, was just as important as the others (except for Sepultura's stunning Schizophrenia, which had just placed them in a league of their own) when it came to delivering uncompromising extreme metal, Brazilian style. That is, it boasted an exceptionally savage and misanthropic fusion of thrash, black, and burgeoning death metal, epitomized here by devastating moshers such as "The Planet Is Dead," "Children of the Cemetery," and "Warrior of Disgrace," to name but a few -- although no amount of raging brutality could disguise the group's impressive musicianship, which was repeatedly illustrated by the ever-changing riffs and tempos throughout, as well as the flashy solos performed by guitarists Mark and Pepeu. The album's obligatory tirade against Christianity surfaced in venomous closer "Mr. Jesus Christ," and Chakal weren't shy about looking to horror movies for lyrical inspiration, paying tribute to zombie flicks like Night of the Living Dead with "The Dead Walk" and sampling audio from Friday the 13th for the seven-minute centerpiece, "Jason Lives." And like most Brazilian heavy metal bands, Chakal's rudimentary command of the English language inevitably resulted in some oddly worded ("May Not the Mankind Suffer," "Children Sacrifice") and even unintentionally funny ("Terminal Brain"???) song titles -- not to mention boatloads of endearingly nonsensical sentences that were partially disguised by Vladimir Korg's gruff screams. Thanks to all of the above, Abominable Anno Domini has stood the test of time surprisingly well, whereas so many of their late-'80s Brazilian contemporaries' efforts sound like so much amateurish sonic mush. [Cogumelo Records' 2005 reissue of Abominable Anno Domini came richly appointed in a deluxe digipack, and featured the two songs from 1988's Living with the Pigs single -- "S.A.T.P. (Shoot the Police)" and "Never Die Young" -- tacked on as bonus tracks.]