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Graf Spee – Reincarnation

Graf Spee was Uruguay’s first death metal band. Named after an old German warship, they formed all the way back in 1978 and originally played traditional heavy metal, but by the late-’80s, they had transformed into a death-thrash band similar to Sepultura in neighboring Brazil. Then, in August 1990, they released their first and only full-length album Reincarnation. They broke up a few years later, but this record managed to gather a small cult following after their demise.

The production is rough and unpolished, which was a common thing back then. Death metal was so new at the time that people didn’t know how to properly produce it. In this case, some parts are overdriven while others are muddled and hard to hear. Despite these irregularities, the drums still manage to sound great. They’re the best part of the album, in fact. They are played by Diego Garcia. His performance is very diverse. He spends a great deal of the album playing hard-hitting d-beats that are heavily inspired by the likes of Slayer. He will then switch things up by throwing in mid-paced rhythms full of double bass, whose raw sound is akin to artillery shells going of in the distance. All of this is topped off by many extravagant fills, the best of which can be found on “Kali-Yuga”.

The bass is played by Luis Sposito. This was back in the time when most metal bands actually cared about the bass. Not only is he high in the mix, but his performance is fantastic, as he plays lots of deep and somewhat groovy riffs. “Eunuchs” is one of the best examples of this. The vocalist is Victor Rueda. His harsh shouts are essentially a more extreme rendition of Venom. They sometimes sound like a rasp and other times sound like a growl. There are also moments on songs like the title track when he performs high-pitched screams that create a haunting quality that is absent in most modern metal.

The guitars are handled by Luis Linfa. His riffs are firmly rooted in thrash metal, but they are far more extreme than most of the other stuff that existed around the same time. Simple arpeggios abound. These are often paired with aggressive chord progressions that contain primordial black metal and death metal elements. He also performs some rapid palm-muted riffs on songs like “Eunuchs”. The solos are where he really shines. They’re fast, they’re vicious, and they show quite a bit of complexity. The last two tracks are the best example of this. “Self-Destruction” features ferocious melody, while “Patala Loca” has a sorrowful quality similar to Metallica’s thrash ballads.

This album is an amazing piece of metal history. Not only is the music highly enjoyable, but it’s also a remarkable example of that period in history when death metal and black metal were forming into distinct styles. If you wish to obtain a physical copy, Zzooouhh Records recently re-released it on cassette and vinyl. If CDs are more your thing, Dies Irae Records did a re-release back in 2016.