Friday, 31 October 2014

Nervosa "Victim Of Yourself" Review

You know, I don't talk about thrash metal much on this blog. Most of it is because, well, thrash metal rarely gets my interest when done purely as thrash metal. Yes, fast playing and aggressive vocals can be really enjoyable, but with it usually comes a lack of variety in the music, and, as a person who loves variety in their music, that means that thrash will nearly always leave me losing interest very quickly unless the album decides to throw in some variety in the vein of the old school thrash metal albums (seriously, go listen to the 80's thrash metal albums again closely: you'll spot there's more variety to them than they're usually given credit for!). For me, most thrash metal only really works these days when it is combined with another style of metal to give it some more variety. When people try to perform thrash like it's the 80's, it only exposes two things: one, most people haven't listened to their thrash metal records as much as they think they have, as they've managed to miss the fact that not all thrash metal albums are balls out speed throughout their whole run time with no variety to them, and two, most people cannot pull off thrash properly these days without making it sound forced. I mean this with no disrespect to the thrash metal bands out there who can do thrash metal without it sounding forced, but thrash just no longer sounds fresh to me: it's just become speed for the sake of speed, and, while some people will really like that, I just find that does nothing for me.

Nervosa don't exactly buck that trend, but I do have to say one thing about them: when they really start playing thrash, it's very hard to believe that the band is made up of three women! No word of a lie, these three women have managed to make a thrash metal album with so much balls that there are thrash metal bands made up of five men out there who haven't been able to make a thrash metal album this ferocious, and that's certainly something that is very commendable!

But having balls doesn't make an album good (...that sentence looks really odd, I know, but you get the point I'm trying to make, I'm sure!), and that's the important question: is this album actually good? Well, let's find out!

First up, the cover art (and I do apologise about the poor quality of the image). It's...very cliché of thrash metal in general, if I'm honest. That's not to say that I think it's bad, as it certainly is appropriate for a thrash metal album, but I feel that any thrash metal band could have come up with this album cover without any difficulty. However, the overall artwork is very good, so credit to the artist for that, I guess!

...Hang on, that cover art reminds me of something! Does this seem more than a bit familiar to the thrash fans who have their ears to the ground regarding retro thrash bands?

...It doesn't? OK, maybe it's just me, but still, I can't help thinking of this...

...Actually, looking at that again, maybe it is just me. OK, never mind then!

Anyway, let's move on to reviewing the album itself!

One of the first things I have to admit is that I've actually never listened to a Brazilian thrash metal album before now (not even Sepultura), so I was rather surprised that this album felt more like it was blurring the line between thrash metal, death metal and early black metal. It feels more than a bit like a Teutonic thrash metal album, but with some of the vocal work by lead vocalist (and bassist) Fernanda Lire having a bit more of a black metal influence than you might expect. While I can't say how this sounds compared to a typical Brazilian thrash metal album, I do have to say that it's probably one of the most aggressive sounding thrash albums I've heard in a good while: in fact, it's aggressive enough to enter death metal territory pretty easily, only not cementing itself into that territory due to Fernanda's voice not being like a death growl! No word of a lie, if I was judging this album on pure aggression alone, I'd be giving this top marks, as it's an absolute face melter in that regard!

However, aggression doesn't mean shit if you can't back that up with music that's actually worth listening I'm surprised to admit that, despite the variety being lacking a bit on the album, the music is actually rather good!

...No, I'm serious. I've found a thrash metal album with a huge amount of aggression and some very good songwriting...and it's an all female band who made the album.

...Fuck me sideways, I didn't expect to be saying that about ANY band this year, let alone an all female band ON THEIR DEBUT ABLUM!

Seriously, I cannot stress that fact enough: this is a band on their debut album, with all of the members being female (so it would be SO easy for them to get by just on the gimmick of "Hey, we're an all female thrash metal band" if they wanted to)...and they've put out possibly the most aggressive album I've heard for years, yet have been able to back it up with some brilliant songwriting! Granted, I don't listen to a lot of extreme metal, so I imagine people more versed in extreme metal than me will be already scoffing at that statement, but I still stand by my statement: I've not heard a thrash metal album which has got me excited and eager to listen to the genre again like this one has for a long time! Diamond Plate were hyped up as being able to do that and, instead, left me cold (as you might remember from my review of their album, which you can read here), but this...fuck me, if this is what a modern thrash metal band can do, I can't help wondering what the hell everyone else is doing wrong, because Nervosa just put every retro thrash metal band I can think of to shame!

...Sorry, I got a bit overexcited there! Dialling back the enthusiasm now.

While the album does blend together a bit after the intro track (which has the highly imaginative name of "Intro"...seriously, did it take you all day to come up with that one, guys...actually, can I say "guys" in this case when the people I'm talking to are all women or do I have to say "ladies" in this case? Because saying "girls" seems a bit like I'm talking down to the members of the band, but "ladies" seems a bit too formal and "guys" feels a bit weird to have to say with that in mind!) due to being all out speed and aggression, it's ultimately a testament to the band's songwriting that I didn't find myself getting bored at all while listening to the album! In fact, the moment the CD was finished, I put it back on again just because I loved listening to it that much! It never felt like a chore to listen to this album at all, which is something I've not been able to say about a thrash album for so long that those words almost feel like I have to force myself to say them just because they're so underused by me! The only problem is that I can't name highlights from the album because I've been so busy enjoying the album that I've not taken the time to listen to each track individually to remember which one is which!

The performances by the musicians are really good, for the most part. While I will admit that the guitar solos feel like they're lacking something in terms of technicality and the bass could be a bit more complex in the bass lines for most of the songs (although there is a very nice bass solo in "Victim Of Yourself" which shows that Lira's certainly a very capable bassist), there are no real criticisms I can make of the performances on the album! Fernanda Lira's vocals deserve some HUGE praise from me, however: she's the first thrash metal vocalist I've heard for a LONG time who actually has a voice that works for thrash metal, and she can also do death growls as well! She is a modern thrash metal vocalist to watch out for, that's all I'm going to say!

The production...well, it's a modern sounding record, but the production has bite to it! While my usual complaints about mastering and bass mixing (although in a more reduced form with the latter, thankfully) do rear their heads, I do have to say that this is a production job that, if you ignore my usual complaints, fits the album really well!

So, overall...actually, the fact this whole review has been gushing about this album probably tells you everything you need to know! Screw fancy conclusions for once: if you like thrash metal and think that thrash metal has been too tame among modern bands, then GET. THIS. ALBUM. I nearly passed over this album because I thought the single from the album ("Death!") was not up to much when I first heard it, but I'm extremely glad I didn't, because this album is very likely to be my album of the year AND has reignited my interest in thrash metal after being bored stiff by it in recent times! Only a truly brilliant album can do that and, as such, there is only one rating I can give for this album.

...But this is only Nervosa's debut album, so I'm going to take half a point off. Not because I feel that it is an appropriate score for the album, but because I want to save a 10 for when the band inevitably tops this album. I wouldn't normally have so much faith in a band being able to do that, but, with Nersova, I feel that the band has the potential to make an album that can top this, and I truly look forward to the day when I can award them with the 10 that I decided not to give them for this album! Don't let me down, ladies...erm, girls...erm, guys...OK, I'm going to need to go work out which of those to use next time I review an album by an all female band, aren't I?

Final Rating: 9.5 Out Of 10

Personal Favourite Tracks: ALL OF THEM!

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