venerdì 10 novembre 2017

Tales Of A Pretentious Asshole#007

Let's talk about a local well hidden secret this time (perhaps due to their jawbreaker name?): the mighty Sagatrakavashen. This was a name that kept popping up occasionally on local 'zines during the '90s, but I've never managed to get a copy of their demo. Then oblivion removed this name from my mind. Until recently. Some japanese friend posted about this band on instagram, and suddenly my interest in this band resurfaced even more intense than back then. And, unlike 20+ years ago, we now live in an era where every information is virtually just a couple of clicks away from you. I indeed ended up finding Pentacolar (the mastermind behind this band) phone number extremely easily. I immediately called him and we got a long and interesting talk about his band from back then. He also provided me a couple of copies of the recent repress of "Sexual Lust" on 7" and even a copy of their extremely rare last tape titled "Borealis".
But let me put everything in the right context before I start. It's the year of the lord 1989. Black Metal, as we know it today, doesn't exist yet. An unknown band hailing from a small mountain town just a couple of hours away from where I live, managed to create that exact music a few years earlier than most of the well known norwegian names.  Pentacolar himself told me that their main influences were Celtic Frost "morbid tales" & Bathory debut album, so it's not a big surprise that they ended up sounding like Dark Throne or Immortal before they even existed. And please don't lemme start talking about their look: corpse-painting, leather pants and studs? Ok, Pentacolar's shoes look more like they were stolen from a Kiss cosplayers meeting, but I guess you got the point. These guys were simply way ahead of their time! Expecially the opening track "necromanzia" is just pure second wave of black metal from the first to the last note under every point of view. The extremely raw production (we're fully in the shit-fi department here) just gives it even more atmosphere. There's an 8mm video of them playing this song in their crypt (their only gig ever) that I hope will see the light one day. Sagatrakavashen started as a solo project, but for this tape Pentacolar was joined by Satanic Drums (worst nickname ever!) so the band became a duo. This brought a strong '80s italian hardcore influence. According to Ugo (Pentacolar's real name), songs on side B were composed with the support of the aforementioned drummer who was mainly a hc kid. Indeed both "reincarnazione" and "lussuriosa" (my fave Saga track!) sound like an incestuous mix of Bathory and Wretched. The band indeed consciously defined itself "black-core" and I think they totally nailed it. The shit-fi production makes it also sounds a lot like early mexican hardcore or ultrametal & punkmedallo from Medellin that was recorded on the other side of the globe in the very same period. And that's not a big surprise since the conditions were pretty much the same: shitty equipment, same influences in almost the same catholic and latino cultural background. 
"Sexual Lust" was originally released on tape in 1989. Two versions of this tape exist: one with 4 tunes plus the intro and a second one with an instrumental track and an extra one. Originally they were supposed to release the first version on 7" as well in 1990, but for some obscure reasons only 100 copies were made back then. 23 years later, due to the attention the band was getting, Pentacolar decided to print 300 more copies of it under the flag of his label Umbrella Records.
In 1991 Saga went back to the one man line-up (if I remember correctly, it was due to Satanic Drums' conscription). So Ugo recorded their third and last demo "borealis" before disbanding forever. (Yes, there's a first demo titled "forza arcana" recorded in 1988 as a solo project as well. But I've been told the production is so raw that is unlistenable). Here you'll get another unhealthy dose of their black-core with the same uber-raw production that I totally love! Not a lot of copies of this went around and I've been lucky enough to get also a couple of unreleased tracks recorded on it! That being said, the title track, "alba tragica", "notte di salem" and "I am the sign" turned out to be pretty solid tunes with all the trademark Saga elements but maybe with a bit more of metal and less hardcore influenced. "Marilou", a weird mid-paced, almost stoner rock tune, close the dances. The unreleased ones do not reach the same level of greatness so it's totally understandable why they had been cut off. All in all, a pretty solid follow up to "sexual lust", their masterpiece in my opinion.
Trivia note: on the lower left corner of "sexual lust" cover, you can notice a crushed box. It's from a very well-known biscuits brand from Valtellina, the valley where Saga came from as well.   

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