NERVOSA: “PERPETUAL CHAOS”
(We welcome a new contributor at NCS — Aleksha McLoughlin — who begins with a review of the new album by the revised Brazilian death/thrash band Nervosa, which was released on January 22nd by Napalm Records.)
April 2020 seemed like a death sentence for the female-fronted thrash/death metal band Nervosa. Guitarist and founding member Prika Amaral had the tough choice to make when it came to replacing their entire line-up. The result isn’t a resounding triumph, but it does enough to justify the band’s place at the fringe of female-fronted extreme metal.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way early on: Even when upgrading to a four-piece from their tried and tested original trio, Diva Satanica (Bloodhunter) simply lacks the vocal power of Fernanda Lira, and Mia Wallace’s bass lines are largely buried in the fairly mid-heavy mix.
“Venomous” opens the album as it means to go on. Guitars have a significant body; very much leaning into that old-school razor-thin tone and presence. We’re assaulted as listeners by a steady combination of bouncy thrash and proto-death guitar riffs that are catchy, but occasionally ring hollow.
The percussion is understated. The thick and punchy snare from the band’s prior albums, Downfall of Mankind and Agony, has been replaced with a tamer sound that results in less bite in the arrangement overall. The drums across the board are completely serviceable, though there’s never a standout moment where Eleni Nota (Lightfold) gets a chance to show her impressive skills, nor be inventive with a series of fills or interesting progression.
“Guided by Evil” is a particular highlight. Starting with an homage to the likes of Black Sabbath, circa. Master of Reality, before a flurry of melodic death metal takes precedence. This song demonstrates an eclectic flow that works surprisingly well. One minute, blast beats and piercing tremolo riffage, and the next, a crushingly impactful injection of classic death metal chugging. Considering the short length of these tracks, it’s admirable to see a lot attempted like this.
The same cannot be said for the likes of “Kings of Domination”, “Godless Prisoner” or “Pursued by Judgement”. These three tracks are the closest that this album comes to filler. They’re fine, just with nothing new or exciting to bring to the table and that’s not the worst fate when considering the abundance of songs across the 45-minute runtime.
Perpetual Chaos features several guest musicians, and they are implemented to varying degrees of success. “Until the Very End” includes a guitar solo by Entombed A.D. axeman Guilherme Miranda, and it’s the best one on this release, hands down. Equally effective is the contribution made by Destruction vocalist Marcel Schirmer, whose thrash metal bark on “Genocidal Command” melds well with Diva’s Angela Gossow inspired shrieks. I withhold my praise for the likes of Erik A.K. and his traditional power metal pipes, which unfortunately tarnish what would have easily been the most inspired track on this disc, “Blood Raven”.
The title track is deserving of attention for several reasons. As cliché as it might be to single out a song that furnishes its name for the release, “Perpetual Chaos” is a much heavier and unapologetic love letter to the likes of Midnight and RAW. It’s as catchy as it is fierce. While it doesn’t quite slow down to the effect of something like Obituary’s “Cause of Death” or Paradise Lost’s “Lost Paradise”, it’s an ample effort that combines many of the best parts that make up vintage extreme metal.
Nervosa haven’t made the transition flawlessly, but what they have done is release an album that, while at some points safe, ultimately satisfies with solid guitar riffs, pleasing production, and some great guest spots. It’s unclear now exactly how the band are going to proceed once the new members get more experience working together, but I believe that one thing is for sure, the only way from here is up.