Brazilian thrashers Nervosa are back after two years with their sophomore record, entitled “Agony”. While the debut was an enjoyable slab of thrash metal, everything about “Agony” is a major step forward. Put simply, it is a much more brutal affair, but the songwriting does not suffer as a result. The guitar tone immediately makes it clear just how punishing this record is: it is chunky, making even notes that aren’t palm-muted sound as if they were. The bass similarly cuts through the mix with similar intensity, and the drums are on another level entirely in terms of sheer aggression. “Agony” is no stranger to speed, and all three musicians make that very clear with their hostile playing.
Perhaps the most satisfying thing about “Agony” is the fact that the songwriting is much more compelling than in the past. Nervosa’s song structures can occasionally be complex, but their choruses are very simple: they often consist of shouting the title of the track over and over (though this isn’t exclusive to every song). This makes it easy to remember most of these songs, even after your first listen. Tracks like “Arrogance”, “Intolerance Means War”, and “Failed System” are excellent examples of this approach. Aside from the catchy choruses, their songs incorporate a variety of familiar techniques to keep things interesting: tremolo picking, blast beats, standard thrash riffs, etc. The key to Nervosa’s success is the fact that they do many things well, without overdoing one particular sound.
Unsurprisingly, this brutality calls for an equally brutal vocal approach. Fernanda Lira has turned things up another notch on this album. Even though her vocals are almost entirely death growls, her delivery makes it sound like if Schmier from Destruction was doing the growling. There’s a certain snarl to it that really sounds like it pays homage to modern Destruction. An intriguing twist occurs on the closing song, “Wayfarer”. There are a couple of moments of pure clean vocals (presumably by Lira) in softer moments of the song, showing even more talent. Though this track is an anomaly, and not at all indicative of the remainder of the record, it is still an interesting inclusion, showing that the band can do more than simply thrash hard. On the whole though, “Agony” is a serious offering of death/thrash that will slaughter many of the most brutal thrash bands around. The jump between the first album and its successor is significant, and if it’s any indication of the future, Nervosa will always be a band to follow!
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"Intolerance Means War"
"Surrounded By Serpents"
4.4/5 or 88%.
Written by Scott