DORSAL ATLÂNTICA HISTORY AND NEWS
The band Dorsal Atlantica is a synonymous of heavy metal rock in Latin America. Extreme metal precursor in Brazil and first band to fuse metal, hardcore and punk in 1984, Dorsal was founded by musician, writer and artist Carlos Lopes in 1981. During decades, the band has influenced many others with their music and attitude.
One of Dorsal creations is the Thrash Opera style made for Searching for the Light album in 1989, which mixed dystopian fiction, religions themes and politics. Born in 1981, Dorsal closed doors in 2001 after two decades, 7 studio albuns and a unique contribution in creative and lyrical terms. Masters in writing humanist and poetic lyrics, in this field they never had successors. During this break up period, compilations and reissues releases not ceased nor invitations to shows for over 11 years.
In 2012, after Lopes recording several other musical styles and started his writing career, the invitation to a Brazilian festival that would be headlining a show with Exodus and Anthrax, made him think of an alternative to enable Dorsal without press, record companies and entrepreneurs. Crowdfunding was the answer. First Brazilian band to invest in this new relationship between artist and audience, the campaign for the recording of an original CD with the original lineup in 2012 raised several questions including the Dorsal importance for Brazil, especially in a local troubled political environment and musically uncreative. Also in 2012 was reissued Guerrilha! biography about the band’s history.
Politically affirmative and musically creative, after the album 2012, the band signed with local Heavy label for recording Imperium album. Launched in 2015, the CD is about the military coup that deposed the Brazilian royal empire in 1889.
In 2016, several projects take off the ground: Guerrilha! movie on the band’s return in 2012 was released; a graphic novel about the history of Dorsal (written and drawn by Carlos Lopes) will be release next and in a few months the band will record a new album that merges Brazilian music and the unique style that made Dorsal famous. The new Dorsal´s Thrash Opera will give birth to a new musical style, and will promote a guitar with new tuning built especially to play the songs written for the album.
DORSAL ATLÂNTICA DISCOGRAFY (1981/2016)
1981 – First gig, the band’s first monicker was named NESS. The Lopes brothers started to play together.
First DORSAL ATLÂNTICA demo.
1984 – Recording of ULTIMATUM, a split-album, only released in 1985.
1986 – The album ANTES DO FIM is recorded. The first south-american LP to mix metal with hardcore/punk.
1987 – DIVIDIR E CONQUISTAR (Divide & Conquer) is recorded during October, November e December. The album is released in 1988.
1988 – A version in english of the same album is named CHEAP TAPES FROM DIVIDE & CONQUER.
1989 – The Thrash Opera SEARCHING FOR THE LIGHT is recorded. The first of three conceptual albums.
1992 – The LP MUSICAL GUIDE FROM STELLIUM is recorded.
1994 – ALEA JACTA EST is recorded.
1996 – The trio recorded STRAIGHT album in England with Paul Johnston as the producer (Cathedral, Napalm Death).
The brazilian tribute OMNISCIENS is released with 13 new bands from all over the country covering Dorsal’ classics.
1998 – Dorsal recorded a live gig in one take for a live album.
The band is requested to play at the brazilian Monsters Of Rock because 35.000 signatures had asked the band to join the cast.
1999 – The live CD TERRORISM ALIVE is released.
The biografy GUERRILHA! written by Carlos Lopes is published.
2001 – The band came to the end, 20 years after the foundation.
2002 – ULTIMATUM OUTTAKES CD and LP.
PELAGODISCUS ATLANTICUS – The Old, The Rare, The New – double CD of rarities.
2005 – Re-recording of ANTES DO FIM album.
2012 – Crowdfunding for the recording of a new album called 2012.
2013 – Re-releasing of GUERRILHA! biography.
2015 – IMPERIUM CD is released.
2016 – GUERRILHA! movie is shown at film festivals and is also released as a double DVD.
Dorsal graphic novel is under production and a new album is ready to be recorded.
The new Dorsal´s Opera Thrash will give birth to a new musical style, and will promote a guitar designed by Carlos Lopes with new tuning built especially to play the songs written for the album.
The sociologist Janice Caiafa writes in his book “Punk Movement in the City – the invasion of suburban bands” (published in 1985) about the first punk metal concert throughout Latin America:
“Near the stage, trying to see punks but i found almost none. Went to a few defining the presence of strange people wearing black, but not yet comprehend. When I stopped in the middle of the crowd and found myself near the band, I realized that I was surrounded by heavys . Extremely long hair – and now I saw: the opened vests, the muscles on display, wearing chains, black pants and jeans. And it was black. And they were not punks. And it was not so surprising because two heavys bands were announced. But at that moment, at the stage was a punk band. In any case, i positioned myself over to the corner, because we already knew the other meetings in which distance and hostility clearly separated heavys and punks. But not only they seemed to be enjoying the band, as seemed to be the only ones to like, they were the audience for that punk band. ( … ) There were 12 punks in the room “back there”. The heavys? Hundred, probably. This changes everything.
( … ) In this meeting between punks and heavys, punk is who loses: although the other also descaracterize a bit, the end effect is heavy-metal. ( … ) And multiply the new labels to account for these hybridizations: headbanger plus, speed-metal, faster than the heavy soled and more than headbanger, yet power-metal, punk-metal, heavy-punk – a whole series of crossovers. According to some hard-core friends there, the heavys are better than the new-waves because they are also against the system.
The band at the stage had a guitar-player/vocalist providing his audience with what they wanted it and an audience who knew what he was singing. His speaks affects positively the audience that follows him and for whom it makes the sound. And who danced and screamed at that time was a heavy crowd. Danced and raised their fists, raising the minimum and the indicator suggesting horns, shouting “devil” and “satan”. ( .. ) So i realized that at the stage was not a punk band but a band who mixed all the styles in one and their name was DORSAL ATLANTICA.
And the vocalist of DORSAL ATLANTICA said into the microphone in this show: “We shall unite all punks and heavys as one.” What punks? In his weakness, which is its strength, punk disappears. Some believes that the heavys will approach this other sound and will turn punks, that is, will take political attitudes, punk positions. ( … ) This persistence of heavy-metal binds to its perfect adaptation to the conditions that an entire network of power imposes. It is undisputed, however, they are apparently strong, and the face of what must be opposed, not so tough.”
(Caiafa, pages 130-135, 1985.)
1981 was a difficult year because of a bomb attack occurred in April in Rio, during a left-winged show. Political violence around me enraged me. For once, those militaries responsible for the attacks remained unpunished. And I wanted to take up arms to fight. But I chose a different weapon: my guitar.
In 1981, about to turn 18, I assembled a band called NESS, with my brother Claudio Lopes for us to play – for the fisrt time – at the end of the year in our high school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Some of my early compositions were played in the second presentation of NESS, before we change the name to DORSAL ATLANTICA . The new band´s name was picked at random from a thesaurus for the mere purpose of being anarchic, or being totally honest, we were inspired by the Dada movement, artistic avant-garde movement of the early twentieth century. The first two songs´ DORSAL demo ( ” War” and the satirical “She Broke Her Hymen”) was recorded in 1982 and it became our first success , having radio air-playing in a Rio de Janeiro´s rock radio station.
Around 1984, a few local venues were booking concerts of punk and metal in the city, and the admirers of the style began to cluster in meetings and gatherings. In 1984, Rock In Rio festival´production scheduled some great international metal bands to play for the first time in Brazil in the following year, because the production payed attention to the metal movement coming out of the streets.
“The Venom did a song called Black Metal and today, many people who listened and knew it , not even talk about them. I think the proposal from DORSAL ATLANTICA came first , that dirty , fast, heavy sound without being fad.” (Zhema, founder of Vulcano, interviewed by Rock Brigade mag, 1986)
Even before, i had the idea to record ULTIMATUM, i have tried to organize a split-album between São Paulo city´bands and Rio´s, but nobody was interested in the project. After exactly five months and seven shows, we thought to document our music professionally, even with no experience. We decided not to record another demo tape, but transform it immediately into a vinyl. To achieve the split-album ULTIMATUM, i spoke to a new local band called Metalmorphose, who were our friends and fans, and so we did it.
Me and my brother sold our stamps and rare coins collections and an old 60´s brazilian valve amplifier to fund our half for the split album. The album was recorded live in a good local 8 track studio and the vocals were added later. As we had no more available recording channels i had to sing together with the backing vocal people who used to laugh when i reach the high-pitched screams.
In 1985, on our last show with drummer Marcos Animal in the town of Lambari in the state of Minas Gerais, a very young boy introduced himself and told me he came from the city of Belo Horizonte to watch us because he had heard that was a Brazilian band who sounded like the European ones.
“Your band is unbelievable. You are equal to Sodom and Hellhammer! It’s the sound that I want to do and I’ve never seen anyone do the same in Brazil! So, i´ll form a band to follow your steps” said a young Max Cavalera to me.
The punk-metal fusion, developed at the home of the Lopes brothers in Rio de Janeiro, found primarily support in suburban area, the first audience that gave us attention and which also surprised us. There was an atmosphere of mass hysteria at our shows. We became very popular, and beyond the musicality itself, and the political lyrics in Portuguese, we had a distinctive look (leather and chains). Along with all this, there was a sense of violence, disunity and disintegration that hung in the air.
ANTES DO FIM (BEFORE THE END)
The “gathering of the tribes”, only happened in 1986 and had the LP ANTES DO FIM as the mainstay. But according to sociologist Janice Caiafa this would not be a unification between metal and punk, but in fact the “defeat of punk”.
The look of DORSAL was totally inspired by punks (boots, chains, studs, black leather). Punks gave us almost everything: inspiration, visual, fanzines, political attitude, etc. Anyway, there was no movement of metal before DORSAL , we define it according to our image and likeness, as I have previously mentioned.
The Hardcore drummer joined DORSAL in late 1985, following the departure of Marcos Animal. We began rehearsing the new material for our first LP. We were working the drum beat that became known as “one by one” (a snare hit followed by another hit on the hi-hat or cymbal), developed by ourselves.
Due to the lack of interest from the two Rio de Janeiro labels, a store in São Paulo decided to sign us to record our first LP, in a professional studio in Rio. But the promised several hours of recording were replaced by only 18 hours for recording and mixing. The entire album was recorded in 12 hours, instruments and voices. I tracked down 2 rhythm guitars, soloed with a Big Muff fuzz pedal into a Marshall amp combo and sang all the tracks in the sequence. All the album was a live recording with vocals added later. The mixing took only 6 hours.
The compositions of ANTES DO FIM discussed the second world war, brazilian politics and human relations. That album featured a new sound that joined forces between punk/HC and metal. This crossover was inconceivable in many places, especially in São Paulo, where during a gig on March 1986 we were blessed with shoutings like “Haired Punks get out” and “Surfers return to RIO”. The huge success of ANTES DO FIM led us to the opening show of Venom and Exciter in Maracanãzinho stadium in Rio de Janeiro in December 1986. (the full list of our shows with foreign bands also includes Nasty Savage, Kreator, Testament, Motorhead, Cradle Of Filth, Anathema, Madball, and the Monsters of Rock festival in 1998 in São Paulo, where DORSAL played with Manowar, Saxon, Glenn Hughes, Megadeth, Savatage, Slayer and Dream Theater.)
DIVIDIR E CONQUISTAR (DIVIDE AND CONQUER)
” I must confess that I suffer from a case of acute crush by the trio from Rio de Janeiro. What matters me the most is that the trio´s irreversible brutal sonic attack is delivered with conviction and brutal category that no one can refuse to give a hand to paddle in aclamos general approval! This work seems can synthesize all the good that was five years in the National Metal from 83 to 88. “Hardcore” is more efficient than ever before in its – apparent – simplicity. Cláudio “Cro-Magnon” shows great weight in bass sewing. Carlos “Vândalo” echoes thunderstorms and smart ideas through your eardrums as accurated bricks launching. How can a guitar player plays so well, what a crazy thing! The lyrics, the subjects, the writer needs to be good to write so well. DORSAL sends its message without being pamphleteer. So with this full of masterpieces preciousness, honestly, DIVIDE & CONQUER ia a favorite to be the best national album of the year. DORSAL ATLANTICA is the one, convincingly the best!
Antonio D. Pirani (Rock Brigade magazine, 1988)
So as 1987 arrived , we decided to forego the look of the earlier days to play live with the “everyday clothing”, framed by a music one step ahead. It was a brave move. We decided to take a radical turn and leave that same look after the show at Maracanãzinho stadium with Venom. DIVIDE & CONQUER album became our new flagship. The idea for the name of the album came from an interview with the lead singer of the brazilian OI band GAROTOS PODRES to a newspaper in November of 1986, in which he accused heavy music of being only “commercial business stuff”.
“The heavies got the aggression of punk and combined it with hard rock of the 70´s, along with alienated lyrics. While punks and skin heads are working class groups, heavy has petty-bourgeois origin”, he said.
The logical meaning says that to not budge on that team who wins, does not it? But that was when the band’s history took a new and unexpected turn. We were full of expectations for our second LP. We kept our raw sounding, despite the fact that our music was being more “refined” as “Preso Ao Passado” track inspired by the Brandenburg Concerto by Bach. This sum of raw punk, raw thrash and classical music was astonishing at that time, as it still today´s . The lyrics of DIVIDE are poetic narratives, transposition of a story or article for the musical genre format. One of the best examples is “Morador das Ruas” track, which journalistically describes my experience in the night city.
DIVIDIR was loved by people from São Paulo capital, who used to criticized us two years earlier, unlike the public of the São Paulo´suburbs and country towns who always supported us.
DIVIDE & CONQUER album had its first pressing immediately sold to São Paulo, and the album was elected as best of the year in magazine Rock Brigade mag.
DIVIDE sucess allowed to play with Motörhead in Porto Alegre, brazilian south state and travel to Manaus and Belém, where we were greeted by hundreds of screaming fans who fullfilled the airports, like a mini-Beatlemania .
We were also surprised by a magazines´election who chose 20 artists to play at the second Rock In Rio festival and DORSAL was among the favorites.
VENOM & EXCITER (1986)
“In the press conference, Venom made wisecracks as showing their butts for the TV cameras and say that they were afraid of snakes found in Brazilian hotels. Who behaved more adult way was DORSAL ATLANTICA.” ( Luiz Carlos Mansur for Jornal do Brasil in December 1986.)
We were invited to play our first show with an international band in late 1986. The event would take place in Maracanãzinho stadium in Rio de Janeiro, with Venom and the canadian Exciter. It was, in fact, the first international heavy underground show performed in Brazil (we had Alice Copper in the 70´s and Van Halen in the 80´s, but there were huge).
The first step was to attend at the Rock Brigade office in São Paulo for a meeting between us and the english or american producer, i don´t remember, who made the following statement: “YOU are nothing but SHIT AND EVERY BAND HAS 20 MINUTES OF SHOW, WITH ASSEMBLING AND DISASSEMBLING (RIG UP AND DOWN) THE EQUIPMENT. IF SOMEONE DELAYS, I WILL REACH THE STAGE FOR MYSELF AND KICK EVERYTHING DOWN”.
Upon hearing that, and without the slightest experience, I felt an idiot but i realized that the guy was being frank with unknown and amateur bands, that would open the gig. Frank, but rude.
During our show in Maracanãzinho, on Sunday December 7th, 1986 , the crowd of nearly 3.000 souls (instead of the anticipated 20.000) , did a giant “wall of death”. Something truly unbelievable. It was our first show for a big audience formed only by headbangers.
” At 8 o’clock, and 30 minute show, songs about armed revolution or protests against Nazism and Fascism sang in “Joseph Mengele”, served to warm up the audience, who began his flashy choreography that includes punching the ground, with movements poultry, almost like a fight. They reached boot plastic pieces covering the block from the gym.” (Alexandre Martins in O GLOBO newspaper, December 9th, 1986.)
Exciter did a great show with high pitched screaming and double bass drumming. We all loved his original drummer Dan Beehler, also the lead vocalist.
Venom was using colored ribbons on their arms (The Calm Before The Storm´ era), which angered the audience who started throwing things at the band. Chronos became angry, and left the stage. I went backstage to find out what was happening and i saw the drummer Abaddon, sick, lying on the floor, almost dead. The other musicians were wagging him with towels to minimize the heat.
The final balance of this production was the cancellation of the last show in Porto Alegre city (although 4.000 tickets were sold) and the guest appearance of the Federal Police who comes in, to arrest Venom in the hotel room because no one could leave the country without paying the debts accumulated of the previous shows, and literally holding the English businessman, by the pants, because he tried to escape through the bathroom window!
(ULTIMATUM / ANTES DO FIM / DIVIDIR E CONQUISTAR)
In the beginning of the 80’s, I placed my finger on a page of an encyclopedia and DORSAL ATLÂNTICA was the lucky name, blindly chosen. On my artistic trips, I was influenced by the idea of choosing a name in the style of the dadaist movement. In 1984, an old amplifier and a stamps collection were sold to finance our half of a split-album named ULTIMATUM recorded after only 2 gigs together. Released in the beginning of 1985, ULTIMATUM had only a 500 copies pressing. No band from Rio de Janeiro had ever recorded and released a heavy metal album, and all over the country only three works had seen the light of the day – it was a time for the brave ones, surely. The first rock radios and venues sprouted giving the necessary and the minimum structure to launch a scene, that always depends on people with similar tastes that wish to relate and get together. Since 1964, we were living under a military dictatorship, and only in 1985, we had our first civilian President after a hiatus of 21 years. Brazilians were still living darker years when ULTIMATUM came out.
DORSAL was the first south American band to play real fast along with a kind of music and attitude which would only be understandable several years later. By the end of 85, necessary changes occurred and we had to leave Marcos Animal drummer behind because DORSAL had chosen to take risks. The newcomer Hardcore drummer developed the DORSAL beat consisted in playing snare and hi-hat alternately. More complex riffs and fast solos were created along with the well done bass lines.
1986 was the starting point for the recording of the first solo album with political lyrics, hardcore plus metal and long hairs. The LP ANTES DO FIM (Before The End) was not accepted immediately because the tradicionalists thought it was too much “punky”. But as time and history flows, ANTES DO FIM became the most important brazilian metal album of all times. The original album cover with 3 corpses´photo was censored by the producers and we had to change it for a skull drawing. Concerts followed one after the other, until December of 1986 when we supported the VENOM and EXCITER concert in Brazil.
DIVIDIR & CONQUISTAR (Divide and Conquer), the second full-length LP was recorded in 87, and released the following year. That album was our great step forward lyrically and musically. The audience wanted us to play faster but the band wanted to develop and innovate the music. Anthems like TORTURA (TORTURE) and VIOLÊNCIA É REAL (VIOLENCE IS REAL) were showing the new path to follow. DIVIDIR won a lot of prizes in metal magazines and allowed the band to travel throughout the country, cheered by hundreds of people in places no band had gone before, and play with more international acts as Nasty Savage from USA, Exhumer from Germany and Motörhead.