The Brazilian hardcore punk and punk scenes originated in the late 1970s just like in most of the world. They were heavily influenced by the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Ramones, and Stiff Little Fingers.
When most people hear the word Brazil, what pops into their heads are images of beaches, the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, or pictures of favelas surrounding the cities. When I think about Brazil, the first things that come to my mind are Ronaldo “o Fenomeno”, the best football player in history, and extreme music.
I must have been 15 or 16 the first time I heard Sepultura, Brazil’s most notorious extreme music export. Now, keep in mind that those were the late 80s, early 90s, and access to new music wasn’t that easy. There was no YouTube where you could just type in a keyword and find hours of content to watch and listen to. We used to read magazines, and wait for Headbangers Ball to learn about new bands all over the world. Then, a DJ would get a record, and play it in a club on weekends. If you knew the dj, you could maybe get a cassette tape. If you were not on good terms – you had to find someone who had somehow managed to get a tape and make a copy.
That was how things worked in Serbia (Yugoslavia at the time) nearing the end of the last millennium.
My introduction to Brazilian hardcore punk
I had a good childhood friend from Brazil named Edoardo, and we used to be pen-pals for years. He knew that I was into metal and hardcore, and in a letter in 1991, he told me about this hardcore punk band from Sao Paulo called Ratos de Porao. Eventually, they would change their sound to crossover with strong thrash metal influence, but the first mixtape I got my hands on was pure hardcore.
It was really, really great heavy music, and just like Sepultura, it gave me a strong, raw tribal vibe. I have discovered in time that so many Brazilian metal and hardcore bands have this unique element in their DNA. It’s a strange, powerful streak that makes you feel the Amazon, the favelas, the centuries of violence and injustice under the scorching sun and heavy humidity.
In the years that followed, I dove into the scene and I can say that Brazilian hardcore punk has become one of my favorite subgenres in the whole world.
A scene is born
Just like the rest of the world, Brazil’s punk and hardcore scenes were born in the late 70s. Although the majority of the bands were influenced by punk royalty (Sex Pistols, Ramones, Clash…), the scene in Sao Paulo was heavily influenced by different sounds. Iggy Pop and the Stooges, MC5, and Speedtwins had a broader, and “non-classical” protopunk sound.
In 1978 Douglas Viscaino formed “Restos de Nada”, a punk band with strong revolutionary ideas and strongly opposed to the Brazilian military government. After that, more punk bands started forming across the country. Bands like AI-5, N.A.I., Carne Podre, and Aborto Eletrico were sprouting in Sao Paulo, Brasilia, and Curitiba.
There were two bands that were very influential in the first days of the forming punk scene in Brazil. Joelho de Porco, and Made in Brazil promoted successfully the punk aesthetic during 1978/79.
Brazilian Hardcore Punk and Punk Rock in the early 1980s
Just like Malcolm McClaren did in London, Fabio Sampaio (future singer of Olho Seco), opened a record shop in downtown Sao Paulo in 1979. And, just like “Sex” in London, “Punk Rock Discos” became the main focus and meeting spot for the scene. Before that, the scene was divided into individuals, bands, or gangs. Sampaio managed to create a place where the scene united and created a proper movement.
Another thing that happened was that Punk Rock Discos influenced Sao Paulo’s sound in a way that it became much more hardcore than punk rock. Sampaio had created international connections, and he had the world’s newest releases as soon as they came out. Since the records were expensive for most of the people in the scene, Fabio used to make mixtapes which he sold for cheap. A true Brazilian hardcore/punk DIY philosophy.
Inevitably, Sampaio’s personal taste reflected on the mixtapes. British Disorder and Discharge, Swedish and Finnish hardcore bands started defining Sao Paulo’s sound.
The bands in the early 1980s and the first Brazilian hardcore punk record
Around 1981 a lot of gigs were all around Sao Paulo, with dozens of bands. The sound was mainly hardcore punk. The most important bands from this period are Colera, Olho Seco, and Inocentes.
The first hardcore/punk record released in Latin America was the compilation “Grito Suburbano” in 1982 featuring all three of the above mentioned groups. Even though punk elements are obvious, it is clearly a hardcore record.
Soon, other bands followed. Lixomania, Ratos de Porão, Psykoze and Fogo Cruzado released their material as well. Their compilation was called “SUB”.
In 1982, the “O Começo do Fim do Mundo (“The Beginning Of The End Of The World”) festival was born. It was the first Brazilian hardcore punk/punk rock festival.
Sao Paulo also had a significant post-punk scene. Bands like Agentss, Mercenárias, Ira!, Voluntários da Pátria, Akira S, Fellini, Smack and others playing around the city. The two scenes had little in common. There were differences in sound, style, and economic class. Post-punks were mainly middle-class young adults with university education, while the HC and punk rockers were young poor working-class kids. Bands from the two scenes seldom played the same bills. One of the reasons was that most venues wouldn’t let hardcore bands play.
Meanwhile in the capital and Rio
In 1980, Aborto Eletrico started playing in Brasilia. Soon, other bands emerged, like Blitx 64 and Plebe Rude. However, as the time went on, most of the upcoming bands shifted to post-punk or new wave.
Rio de Janeiro, on the other hand, had a fruitful punk scene. Skateboarders from the working class orbited around bands like Coquetel Molotov, Descarga Suburbana, and Eutanásia.
Brazilian hardcore and punk in the mid-late 80s
By 1984, the Sao Paulo scene was almost destroyed by police harassment and gang violence on the shows. Many bands changed their sound as a reaction. Some turned to post-punk (Inocentes, Mercenárias and 365), while others gravitated towards crossover and thrash metal (Ratos de Porão and Lobotomia).
The south of the country also had their successful representatives. Replicantes from Porto Alegre even achieved national success, and had significant FM radio time.
Meanwhile, in the capital, Brasília, bands playing post-punk and new wave, started releasing out commercially successful records on major labels. Some of the biggest names were Legião Urbana, Capital Inicial, and Plebe Rude. The capital, however, had its own hardcore scene too. Bands like BSBH and Detrito Federal closely resembled the raw São Paulo style.
During the last years of the decade, the hardcore and punk scenes faded away in Brazil. Hyperinflation and the economic crisis made it very difficult for new bands to afford studio time and release new material. On the other hand, Increasing gang violence within the scene made live shows rare and very dangerous, with even murders happening during gigs.
The 1990s and 2000s
After the long dry season during the late 80s and the first two years of the 90s, the Brazilian hardcore punk and punk rock scenes picked up again. The new decade catapulted No Violence, Safari Hamburguers, Abuso Sonoro, Execradores Point of No Return, Dominatrix, Calibre 12, Nitrominds and others in São Paulo. The scene in Brasilia had DFC and Raimundos. The city of Bahia was put on the map with Bosta Rala and Pastel De Miolos, and many other new bands were sprouting like mushrooms all over the country. Also, many bands started singing in English, unlike the bands from the 80s.
The second half of the 90s and the following decade consolidated the Brazilian hardcore and punk scenes, and they were productive like never before. Gang violence, arguably the number 1 issue that was negatively impacting the scene was almost completely eradicated.
The new millennium saw Brazilian thrashcore grow and achieve both national, and international popularity. Bands like Discarga, I Shot Cyrus, Infect, Histeria Coletiva, Sick Terror and others waving the flag high.
Brazilian hardcore and punk today
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, just like everywhere else, the music scenes have been put on hold. However, the Brazilian hardcore and punk scenes have been very much alive in the last 5-10 years. Some of the most active bands are Terror Revolucionario, Worst, Sujera, Cras, Rockdalle, Fucking Violence, Projeto Pancada, Third World Rise, A Few Days in Dark, etc.
Most Notable Brazilian Hardcore and Punk bands
- Cólera, Classic punk rock/hardcore, one of the pioneers of the genre in Brazil (1979 – still active)
- CPM 22, Melodic Hardcore/Pop Rock from São Paulo (1995 – still active)
- Charlie Brown Jr., Major label Skate Punk/Ska/Pop Rock from Santos (1992–2013)
- Dead Fish, Hardcore Punk from Vitória (1991 – still active)
- Garotos Podres, old punk/oi band from São Paulo (1982 – still active)
- I Shot Cyrus, Thrash/Fastcore band from São Paulo- Members of Ratos de Porão (1997–2009)
- Legião Urbana
- Lobotomia, Hardcore/Crossover Thrash (1983–1992; active again in the 2000s)
- Matanza, Hardcore punk and country from Rio de Janeiro (1995 – 2018)
- Patife Band
- Plebe Rude, 80s post-punk from Brasília (1981 – still active)
- Point of No Return – Straight Edge Hardcore/Metalcore from São Paulo (1996–2006)
- Porcos Cegos (Blind Pigs) – Hardcore/Punk Rock from Barueri (1993 – still active)
- Raimundos – Major label Hardcore/Forrócore/pop-rock from Brasília (1987 – still active)
- Ratos de Porão – Brazil’s oldest and biggest hardcore/crossover band (1981 – still active)