Well, to say I haven’t been sat there waiting for this since August last year when Fernanda Lira, bassist and vocalist for the Brazilian thrash power trio Nervosa told me they planned to hit the studio in the start of 2016 would be a lie. For me, this is up there with the most anticipated releases of the year. After the success of ‘Victim Of Yourself’ and a huge European tour last summer, the girls of Nervosa headed to the states to record their latest album before touring there and through Central America and parts of South America. Now, summer brings us back once again to the European circuit and no doubt the girls will make an appearance somewhere, but October is where it is at for them live – A huge tour with Destruction! Anyway, enough of the live sidetracking… Let’s feel some Agony!
“Arrogance” opens the album with an intense sound. Heavy riffs, tight drums, booming bass and those Teutonic styled vocals cut right through like a scythe. With venom and intensity in the delivery, this thrash track does exactly what is required of it. Gang vocal choruses, big riffs and a real heavy groove, it certainly shows a progression towards a heavier sound compared to their last album.
“Theory Of Conspiracy” hits hard from the off. Blistering paced riffs, relentless drums and a real clear and heavy bass tone pummel away, this time really bringing the Destruction influence out in the band. Precise and pounding, the rhythm section of Fernanda and Pitchu keeps everything in check whilst Prika continues to hammer out Teutonic inspired riffs with little fuss. Vocally though, this feels more like classic Sepultura with the ferocity behind the delivery and this matches the impact of the track. Whether it’s the galloping thrash riffs or the death metal styled blast sections, it doesn’t let up in the slightest.
“Deception” slows the pace down a little, opting for a more groove laden thrash approach. With a sweet rhythmic hook to the riffs and the lower, more sinister range of Fernanda’s growls providing the vocals, the ominous feel this song brings is fantastic. Lead wise, it’s great too – a real Slayer feel runs through it with the whammy dives and blisteringly quick trills and licks, but it actually has a melodic quality to it, something Mr King lacks and could take note of.
“Intolerance Means War” should sound familiar, it’s been in circulation for a few weeks now. With that classic thrash feel with the simple riffs, quick pace and raw vocals, it charges head on with minimal fuss. Intense in the rapidly delivered buzzing guitar sections, simple in the chorus with a memorable riff and vocal hook, it does what it has to – it stays in your head. The bass heavy groove under the guitars thunders away and it will have you headbanging along whether you wish to or not.
“Guerra Santa” translates to Holy War and is delivered in the band’s mother tongue. A ferocious onslaught of riffs, coming across like ‘Piece By Piece’ by Slayer hits you head on and just does not stop for anything. Fast as fuck, this one just speeds away with riff after riff over some relentless drumming and raw as hell vocals which cut away at you till there is little left. “Failed System” brings us back to the heavy thrash delivery again. Groove laden and shifting into rapidly delivered riffs with little fuss in the transition, it is another rhythmically solid track guaranteed to engage the live crowd, especially in the lead section which is delivered over some solid riffs which is almost certain to whip up a storm in the pit or have a sea of heads spinning in time with the windmilling.
“Hostages” is another familiar track, having been premiered in the weeks leading up to the release of their album. With a slow pace initially, the malevolent sound and pure heaviness crushes you and traps you, leaving no escape. Thundering drums, pounding bass and heavy as hell riffs pin you down and do not let up. Raw vocally and sinister musically, it’s a heavy as hell track which may not be delivered at breakneck pace, but the way the mood and the delivery combine creates a real unique atmosphere which does more than enough to make it one of the most intense tracks on the album.
“Surrounded By Serpents” opens with a quick drumfill before slipping into a slow, twisting, exotic sounding riff over some precisely delivered bass and drums. Alternating between bursts of energy and slower groove, it keeps you on guard whilst it rears up, ready to strike at any moment. Vocally, it revisits the sinister side of Fernanda’s delivery and it works great over the twisting riffery. With more emphasis on precision than speed, everything comes out cleanly instead of murky like what can sometimes happen in thrash and that in itself is a hard task to accomplish but the girls do so with minimal fuss.
“CyberWar” opens up with a building bassline. Joined by the drums, increasing the urgency in the sound and finally the guitars, this has speed metal and crossover plastered all across it. Channelling Nuclear Assault on this one, you know what to expect – fast, catchy, big emphasis on gang vocal choruses which are memorable and plenty of scope to headbang or mosh away, it’s bound to get a great reception in the live setting. “Hypocrisy” brings us back to the slow, ominous and atmospheric build up again. Haunting guitar and droning bass really adds a heavy edge and as it slips into the machine gun burst styled riffs before the flat out full-speed ahead thrash onslaught, you know this is going to be intense. Simplistic riffs and structure once again form the spine of the track, but that is the beauty of thrash, it’s so simple and primal and when done right, it is fantastic. Cutting riffs, harsh vocals and plenty of mosh-friendly groove, it powers on. Buzzing leads with some flair-filled delivery spice it up and for a penultimate track, it really sets the tone for what is to come.
Closing the album is “Devastation” which is an explosion of evil sounding thrash. Low register riffery, scathing vocals and some fantastic rhythm work and riffs hit you hard and it’s exactly what you’d expect from Nervosa who have earned the praise of some of Thrash metal’s elite, and for good reason too – This is raw thrash at its finest, drawing from the classic sound, the cross over sound and some elements of death and black metal just to round it out, a fine end to a great album. For those who have the bonus track version of this release, you get “Wayfarer” which has a familiar feel to it but I can’t quite place it. With a classic rock and bluesy edge to it, the track is almost a total departure to the usual style of music from Nervosa. Fernanda actually sings cleanly on this track, and all I can say is Fuck! She has one hell of a clean voice, a real blues and classic soul/RnB quality oozes through it with so much clarity and presence. Needless to say, the dirt gets laid on and the track shifts back to the thrashier feel, as do the vocals, coming back to that distinct snarl Fernanda is known for. It would be interesting to see if this is an original track or a cover (and if so, to find out who did the original) but it is a great way to close the release.
Overall, “Agony” doesn’t inflict that much pain musically, which is pleasing… But the name does suit the delivery and the sound the girls have delivered. Harsh, relentless and intense, it shows a progression from their first album to a band who have found their desired sound. Similarities to big thrash bands are obvious, inspirations are hard to stamp out, but the girls manage to deliver well, blending the likes of Destruction, Slayer, Nuclear Assault and Sepultura to give an original sound. For those yet to experience Nervosa, they’re on tour a fair bit and they hit Europe with Destruction in October too, so if you want to see some fine thrash, get along to it…. And get this album too. It’s going to be up the top end in several end of year lists!