REVIEW: NERVOSA – “Downfall Of Mankind”
Brazil’s Nervosa have been dominating the spotlight in the thrash game for several years now, and for good reason. The three-piece immediately grabbed the attention of the world upon their release of their 2012 demo, which led to a deal with their current label, Napalm Records. Through Napalm, Nervosa have released two full length records in 2014 and 2015 – “Victim Of Yourself” and “Agony”, respectively. Both records were incredibly well received, and their third Napalm offering, “Downfall of Mankind” is set to perform just as well, if not better.
Nervosa’s particular brand of thrash metal is a world away from Metallica or Testament. Rather, the trio led by front woman Fernanda Lira takes inspiration from a more underground, more visceral style of thrash. The influence of American cult favourites Nuclear Assault and Dark Angel can be clearly heard, but on even a cursory listen to any of Nervosa’s material, it is obvious that despite their Brazilian origins, their sound is very German. Hyper-aggressive thrash mixed with a very early incarnation of death metal was a template that built almost the entirety of the Teutonic thrash movement in the ‘80s in Germany, and it is a sound that Nervosa have carried since their first demo – and “Downfall of Mankind” is no different.
With the exception of the atmosphere-building intro track, “Downfall of Mankind” is wall to wall ferocity, starting with the anthemic crusher “Horrordome” and not relenting until the closing notes of the bonus track, “Selfish Battle.” Lead single “Never Forget, Never Repeat” showcases the essence of Nervosa’s sound, mixing the unrestrained ferocity with a selection of hooks that are guaranteed to translate extremely well in a live environment. “Enslave” opens with a very strong, At The Gates/“Coma of Souls” era Kreator riff – this coupled with the Mille Petrozza and Schmier influenced rasp of Lira’s vocals further strengthens the link to Teutonic thrash Nervosa carry.
One of the highlight tracks from “Downfall of Mankind” is doubtlessly “…And Justice For Whom?”. Tongue-in-cheek title aside, the track has a very early speed metal sound, sounding a little lighter in places than the death-thrash Nervosa are known for, though the trio bring in the heavier influence at just the right moments to give the track a truly crushing feel. “No Mercy” brings an intense, high-speed thrash banger to the table, while “Raise Your Fist!” is another track that will be an instant hit in the live environment – though the lyrics are perhaps a tad sloppy in comparison to the rest of “Downfall of Mankind.” Continuing their tradition, Nervosa close the standard edition of the record with an absolutely devastating track written in their native Portuguese – “Cultura do Estupro”.
“Downfall of Mankind” was always going to be a vital record for Nervosa. With their third full length, this is Nervosa’s chance to prove that they are worthy of their place in the big leagues of metal, and to push them from a promising young band to one of the leaders of modern thrash. Their brand of Teutonic thrash, via Brazil, is refreshing – despite wearing its influence on its sleeve – and “Downfall of Mankind” is exactly the record Nervosa had to make. True to the style they have championed since their origin, while still keeping things interesting, “Downfall of Mankind” is a highly energetic, visceral and, above all, exceptionally enjoyable album, charged with social and political commentary and driven by a mountain of hyper-aggressive riffing. The future for Nervosa is very bright indeed.