Petrus Castrus is a progressive rock band formed in 1971 by the brothers Pedro Castro and José Castro. Petrus Castrus emerged as one of the first Symphonic Rock bands in Portugal, earning the status of “Pais do Rock” along with other cult bands.
In the beginning they were heavily influenced by bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Procol Harum, The Nice and Electric Light Orchestra.
Formed in 1971, Petrus Castrus consisted of the Castro brothers, Pedro (vocals, guitar and bass) and José (keys and vocals). They recruited two former members of the Play Boys, Júlio Pereira (guitar) and Rui Reis (keys), who would also be joined by João Seixas (drums) and began to practice music close to symphonic rock, then very fashionable. They got a record contract with Valentim de Carvalho and edited two EPs with the titles Marasmo and Tudo isto, Tudo mais, which were very well received by the critics. They split from Valentim de Carvalho and moved to the newly formed Sassetti, where they released their debut album entitled Mestre, now considered one of the best Portuguese albums of all time. The album was recorded in France, in the same studio where José Afonso recorded the essential Cantigas do Maio. Mestre consists of songs with poems by Bocage, Alexandre O’Neill, Ary dos Santos, Fernando Pessoa and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. The fact that they recorded these poets earned them the confiscation of the disc for three months by the infamous Censorship Commission.
Shortly after recording the album, Júlio Pereira left to form the rockier band Xarhanga, with whom he would record two singles. Later, Júlio Pereira would be linked to the new Portuguese popular music with the edition of the album Cavaquinho and would definitively abandon Rock. Even before April 25, 1974, Petrus Castrus recorded the single A Bananeira, only released after that historic date for Portugal. The attitude of social satire, always associated with the band and assumed by it, had nothing to do with the musical proposals that emerged in the post-revolution period, in which there was an attempt to say at once what had been hidden for many years, through the called intervention music. As the band did not feel well in this role, it suspended its activities. João Seixas and Rui Reis join Plutônicos, later Ferro & Fogo. João Seixas would meet Júlio Pereira again, when he was part of the band of the author of Cavaquinho, in live concerts.
The Castro brothers went abroad and returned in 1976, with degrees in economics and engineering. The music bug stayed there, though. And so, in 1978 the band returned with a new LP entitled Ascensão e Queda. As a trio, with the brothers Castro and Urbano Oliveira on drums, Petrus Castrus also has the participation of Very Nice (currently Fernando Girão), Lena d’Água and Nuno Rodrigues (member of Banda do Casaco). Although it was a commercial failure and was slammed by critics at the time, today it is a highly sought-after record, especially by collectors of progressive music, having been reissued by a South Korean label. They recorded two more singles: Cândida and Highly Secret Agent, but only the first one will be released. They even gave a few live concerts in the early years, but eventually disappeared.
In 2007 the group got together on the pretext of publishing the CD of the album Mestre, edited and remastered by Companhia Nacional de Música, with the same line-up also counting on the collaboration of Luis Castro on solo guitar. The album is released in double format, including several unpublished tracks: bonus tracks “Agente Alta Secreto” and “Pouca Terra” on CD 1, and on CD 2 a complete unpublished album entitled “Morte Anunciada dum Taxista Obeso”, with themes recorded between 2000 and 2005. This album by José Castro also features Pedro Castro and Luis Castro.
On January 22, 2008, Petrus Castrus officially returned to action, performing at Fnac do C.C. Colombo for an interview and concert as part of the release of the double album. The interview is guided by João Carlos Calixto and the Castro brothers, with Luis Castro on guitar and bass, and Urbano Oliveira on drums, playing old as well as unpublished themes that incorporate the new album.
On August 22, 2013, Petrus Castrus organized a private concert at the famous Café Império, in Lisbon, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the release of the album Mestre. More than 300 people came to watch the band’s celebration concert. With the participation of Luis Castro on lead guitar, vocals and musical direction, Urbano Oliveira on drums, and Jonas Cruz on bass.
On October 11, 2014, the band presents a show entitled “Petrus Castrus – Return to the Future”, giving a unique concert at the Municipal Auditorium of Seixal, where they revisit themes from the album Mestre, Ascenção e Queda, and unpublished themes composed over the last years.