review: Nervosa – ‘Agony’ 

by Richard Archer

When I used to enjoy the thrash metal of the 1980’s, it felt like it was a fresh atom-split from the hardcore punk genre. Labels such as Roadrunner specialised in releasing records with very home-made cover artwork and a fixation on gloom, all of which carried a peculiar charm. Later on down the road it all got a bit rhythmically convoluted, moving away from the loud and fast template that it shared with the likes of Motörhead and Dead Kennedys. Where it had broadened in scope (no bad thing), it had also lost some of the snotty immediacy.

Brazil’s Nervosa have the same appeal as that exciting first wave of thrashers, without being throwback. ‘Agony’ is a harder and more straightforward album than their spirited debut ‘Victim of Yourself’, with assured performances running parallel to a refined approach in arrangement. Prika Amaral’s distinctive punchy guitar playing style holds the foreground in the production but she has dialled down on the guitar breaks – check out the brief but blistering solo towards the end of ‘Hostages’ for confirmation. For metalheads, this might be akin to the original punks hearing the staggering two-note guitar solo on the Buzzcocks ‘Boredom’ for the first time.

It’s not an album without curveballs though. The aforementioned ‘Hostages’ includes some unexpected jazz swing from drummer Pitchu Ferraz on the song’s introduction, ‘Guerra Santa’ (meaning ‘Holy War’) has almost folky vibes despite it’s short sharp delivery and final twister ‘Wayfarer’ shows off bluesy skills and reminds me of ‘Sabotage’-era Sabbath. Bassist/vocalist Fernanda Lira holds the album’s final surprise – an acapella sign-off with a slinky croon that you never knew was in there.

It’s tantalising to think where album number three will take the band, but I hope they stay true to their roots. This album will win a lot of new ears and re-energise older ears to the ways of thrash. Loud fast rules.

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