What is Brazilian Heavy Metal? History, Subgenres and Notable Bands

by Patria

Brazilian heavy metal is a vibrant and diverse musical genre that has evolved over decades, blending influences from traditional heavy metal with unique Brazilian cultural elements. This article explores the origins, characteristics, subgenres, notable bands, and impact of Brazilian heavy metal on the global music scene.

Origins and Evolution

Brazilian heavy metal traces its roots back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when bands from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and other cities began experimenting with the heavy sound pioneered by bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Judas Priest. One of the earliest and most influential Brazilian heavy metal bands was Viper, formed in São Paulo in 1985. Their debut album, “Soldiers of Sunrise,” released in 1987, showcased a blend of traditional heavy metal with Brazilian musical influences, setting the stage for the genre’s development.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Brazilian heavy metal experienced a rapid expansion with the emergence of bands like Sepultura, Angra, and Sarcofago. These bands incorporated elements of thrash metal, power metal, and death metal into their music, creating a distinct Brazilian metal sound characterized by aggressive riffs, complex rhythms, and lyrical themes ranging from social issues to mythology.

Characteristics of Brazilian Heavy Metal

Brazilian heavy metal is known for its technical proficiency, often featuring intricate guitar solos, fast-paced drumming, and dynamic vocal performances. Bands in this genre frequently explore diverse musical styles, blending traditional heavy metal with Brazilian folk music, bossa nova, and samba rhythms. This fusion of styles adds a unique flavor to Brazilian heavy metal, setting it apart from its European and American counterparts.

Lyrically, Brazilian heavy metal addresses a wide range of topics, including political unrest, environmental concerns, folklore, and cultural identity. Bands often sing in Portuguese, although some incorporate English lyrics to reach a broader international audience.

Subgenres of Brazilian Heavy Metal

Over the years, Brazilian heavy metal has diversified into several subgenres, each with its own distinctive characteristics and fan base. Some of the prominent subgenres include:

Thrash Metal: Influenced by bands like Sepultura and Sarcofago, Brazilian thrash metal is known for its aggressive guitar riffs, rapid tempo, and socially conscious lyrics. Bands such as Ratos de Porão and Violator have contributed significantly to the thrash metal scene in Brazil.

Death Metal: Characterized by guttural vocals, complex song structures, and dark themes, Brazilian death metal bands like Krisiun and Nervochaos have gained international recognition for their technical prowess and intense live performances.

Power Metal: Drawing inspiration from European power metal bands, Brazilian power metal emphasizes melodic guitar solos, epic storytelling, and fantasy themes. Angra, a pioneering Brazilian power metal band, has achieved global success with albums like “Angels Cry” and “Holy Land.”

Black Metal: While not as widespread as thrash or death metal, Brazilian black metal bands like Mystifier and Sarcófago have made significant contributions to the global black metal scene, infusing their music with occult themes and raw, atmospheric soundscapes.

Progressive Metal: Bands like Shaman and Mindflow have explored progressive elements within the Brazilian heavy metal landscape, incorporating complex rhythms, unconventional song structures, and philosophical lyrics.

Notable Bands and Their Impact

Several Brazilian heavy metal bands have made significant contributions to the genre, both locally and globally, shaping the sound and influencing musicians worldwide. Here are some notable bands and their impact on the Brazilian heavy metal scene:

1. Sepultura

Formed in 1984 in Belo Horizonte, Sepultura quickly rose to prominence with their aggressive thrash metal sound.

Albums like “Beneath the Remains” (1989) and “Chaos A.D.” (1993) showcased the band’s powerful blend of thrash, death, and tribal rhythms, earning them a loyal fan base and critical acclaim.

Sepultura’s international success brought attention to the Brazilian metal scene, paving the way for other bands to gain recognition on a global scale.

The band’s lineup changes and musical evolution over the years have kept them relevant and influential in the metal community.

2. Angra

Founded in São Paulo in 1991, Angra is known for its symphonic power metal sound and virtuosic musicianship.

Albums like “Angels Cry” (1993) and “Holy Land” (1996) established Angra as a leading force in the power metal genre, blending melodic guitar solos with intricate arrangements.

Angra’s international tours and collaborations with renowned musicians have helped them reach a diverse audience and solidify their reputation as one of Brazil’s most successful metal bands.

The band’s influence extends beyond music, as they have inspired a new generation of Brazilian metal musicians to explore complex compositions and thematic storytelling.

3. Krisiun

Hailing from Rio Grande do Sul, Krisiun is a death metal powerhouse known for their intense live performances and technical proficiency.

Albums like “Black Force Domain” (1995) and “Southern Storm” (2008) showcase Krisiun’s relentless aggression, fast-paced drumming, and brutal vocals.

Krisiun’s international tours and collaborations with prominent metal acts have solidified their status as one of Brazil’s most respected death metal bands, influencing the global death metal scene with their uncompromising style.

4. Torture Squad

Formed in São Paulo in 1993, Torture Squad is known for their blend of thrash, death, and groove metal elements, creating a dynamic and aggressive sound.

Albums like “Pandemonium” (2003) and “Esquadrão de Tortura” (2013) demonstrate Torture Squad’s ability to craft heavy, riff-driven music with socio-political lyrics.

The band’s energetic live shows and dedication to their craft have earned them a devoted following in Brazil and abroad, contributing to the diversity of the Brazilian metal scene.

5. Hibria

Hailing from Porto Alegre, Hibria combines elements of power metal and traditional heavy metal, delivering high-energy performances and catchy melodies.

Albums like “Defying the Rules” (2004) and “Silent Revenge” (2013) showcase Hibria’s technical prowess, with shredding guitar solos and anthemic choruses.

Hibria’s international tours and collaborations with metal festivals have helped them gain recognition outside Brazil, highlighting the global appeal of Brazilian heavy metal.

These bands, among others in the Brazilian heavy metal scene, have contributed to the genre’s diversity and innovation, pushing boundaries and inspiring generations of metal musicians and fans worldwide. Their impact continues to resonate, shaping the future of Brazilian heavy metal and its place in the global music landscape.


Brazilian heavy metal is a dynamic and multifaceted genre that continues to evolve and thrive within the global metal community. From its humble beginnings in the 1980s to its current status as a powerhouse of metal innovation, Brazilian bands have pushed boundaries, challenged conventions, and inspired generations of musicians and fans. With its blend of technical proficiency, cultural influences, and passionate storytelling, Brazilian heavy metal remains a vital force in the world of heavy music.

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