Not long after their formation less than four years ago in São Paulo, Brazil, female thrash trio Nervosa have been steadily rising in the international metal community. Their first single “Time of Death” won them critical praise and quickly led to high-profile gigs, and their 2012 debut video “Masked Betrayer” became a runaway hit on YouTube in a matter of days. This week, the team of Fernanda Lira (bass & vocals), founder Prika Amaral (guitars) and Pitchu Ferraz (drums) have unleashed their first full-length album Victim of Yourself on Napalm Records, and it's one of the meanest, darkest and most uncompromising metal releases to emerge from the Brazilian metal movement, as well as the worldwide thrash revival.
Speed and intensity are clearly the main focus of Victim, and toward that goal the band maintains a fairly consistent formula from track to track, modulating that power instead with rapidly-shifting tempos driven by the superb rhythms of Ferraz at the drumkit, who emerges as one of the most powerful and dynamic drummers in the genre. Lira takes a cue from bands like Bathory in her higher-range, ferocious black metal-style vocal delivery, which balances out the deep, chunky riffs churned out by Amaral and herself, and while solos are kept fairly low-key here, the leads are still technically impressive, remaining intricate and razor-sharp at the highest velocities.
The album kicks off with some awesome haunted house horror effects, setting a grim and ominous tone for the expansive sound that follows – beginning with the pulse-pounding "Twisted Values," a snarling beast that rips into bursts of tremolo picking, shifting without warning into stuttering, rapid-fire progressions and creepy leads. "Justice Be Done" swaps between vintage dark-rock chords and speedy riffs, and elements of groove are folded into "Wake Up And Fight," which also sports some of the speediest picking and Lira's most evil vocal work. One thing you'll notice by the midpoint is that the majority of these songs are written in the same key; it's not necessarily a sticking point for me, as the songs are broken up by shifting dynamics instead of key changes, but I expect it might lead to ear fatigue in some listeners.
Photo: Kubo Metal
The tempos drop dramatically on cuts like "Envious," which picks up speed at regular intervals but tends to stick with an ominous, rolling rumble, which along with the maliciously sleazy “Nasty Injury” and the wildly demonic title track are aided by some of the strongest bass work I've heard in a thrash or death metal release in quite a while. It's mainly the drums that distinguish tracks like "Morbid Courage" and the chilling "Uranio Em Nos," where Ferraz's jackhammer snare work is totally off the chain. All of these elements come together nicely beneath the macabre chants of "Deep Misery" and the rage-fueled “Death,” which makes it the ideal choice for a solid single and the album's first music video. Behold:
Apart from a certain sameness across many of these tracks, there's enough high-octane blood and thunder in Victim of Yourself to satisfy the most discerning thrash fan; between the barely-restrained madness of the rhythms and the demonic fury of the vocals, Nervosa's three-pronged attack serves their thrash & blackened death fusion well, and makes them an act to watch out for this year and beyond.