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Nervosa - Victim of Yourself

Nervosa – CD Review
Victim of Yourself


CD Info
Napalm Records
12 Tracks
English Lyrics

Take three lovely Brazilian ladies with different musical backgrounds and levels of training, let them indulge in their giant shared passion for thrash metal, and they’ll blow your socks right out of the graveyard. Nervosa hits you like a sonic tsunami. It’s not roaring music that will drown you. It’s a surging wave that sweeps you away with its unbridled enthusiasm.

Two of the ladies are self-taught. One attended an academy of music. This is their debut album. Yet they take over the sound system or the stage like seasoned professionals who can compete with the best.

This isn’t just my opinion. One of my friends, a crazy Swede, is a thrash metal nut. He’s told the 23,000 followers of his hard metal site that Nervosa has instantly become one of his favourite bands. If you’re at all into thrash, they’re going to conquer you too.

A couple of years ago the ladies were separately doing gigs with death metal and crossover metal bands, as well as non-metal gigs, in their home city of São Paulo. After getting to know each through the music scene they realized they had a common love. They said something like: “To hell with all of this, let’s thrash!” They probably said it in Portuguese, which I don’t speak, so my translation may not be exact.

Fernanda Lira became the front woman for the new band, doing the lead vocals as well as playing bass. Her idol since her childhood has been Steve Harris, bassist for Iron Maiden. Fernanda shuns the use of picks and plays by plucking with her fingers. Her self-training as a dark singer has developed an effective and higher-pitched style of growling which, I think, is called the “fry” style. It may merge at times with the false chord style. Whatever the case, she uses her voice with excellent control and pitch.

Prika Amaral, backing vocals as well as guitar, took a leaf from Tony Iommi’s book. As Black Sabbath’s guitarist, Iommi more or less invented the metal guitar sound by down-tuning the instrument. Prika tunes her guitar down by two tones to deliver her rich and resonant thrash style. She too is self-taught, and she’s become a something of a visual wonder in Brazil. People who watch her play find themselves gaping in awe at the lightning speed of her fingerwork for solos and riffs.

Nervosa released two EPs in 2012. One of them was 2012 and the other was Time Of Death. For their debut full-length album, Fernanda and Prika needed to add layers of complexity to the drumming. They brought in academy-trained Pitchu Ferraz last year. After working through some material with the others, Pitchu reckoned she needed to develop some additional skills – skank beat, blast beats and the use of two bass drums – which she promptly did, faultlessly, before Nervosa went into the studio.

Victim of Yourself is a dark album. It probes into self-doubt, uncertainty, guilt, punishment and the need to take responsibility for one’s own actions. The opening track is an intro into this somber inner world. It launches with the screeching of unoiled steel gates and what sounds like a riot in the Bedlam asylum, not just any prison. About one minute in, the thrash explodes and blasts away the sound effects. From then on, the album is unrelenting but compulsive thrash in the old style.

The second track, “Twisted Values”, introduces another element of this album – sustained tension. It smacks you with a succession of staccato, hard-punching riffs and drumming interspersed with adrenaline-racing, high-speed solo bursts.

Fernanda’s versatility as singer comes to the fore on the third track, “Justice Be Done”. First she is introduced by a martial tattoo on the drums, then her voice pours pure scorn – or could it be self-loathing as well? – into the song. Who says you can’t convey emotion with metal growling?

There is a similarity in the form and arrangement of all the songs on the album. Within each song, though, each of the musicians injects unique sound bursts that make every song its own distinctive composition. Track 4, “Wake up and Fight”, may be the technically most complex song on the album. You must listen to it a few times to pick up all the musical nuances!

This quality of constantly changing the pace and beat within each song shows powerfully in Track 7, “Morbid Courage”, a primal and percussive incision into the primitive psyche that lurks inside all of us.

For a single release, Nervosa chose “Death!” (Track 8). This is the most “commercial” song on the album, if any of the band’s music can be called commercial. It should win over fans of heavy metal as well as thrash.

In summary, Nervosa has put together 12 tracks that most excellently showcase their skill and their future potential. The sound engineering and production are high quality, the CD artwork is cool, and this could be a breakthrough for this new band. That would be good.

Score: 8.8 / 10

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