While the cover art looks more like it belongs on a Municipal Waste album, Brazil’s NervoChaos aren’t a current band playing the music of their elders. They are the real deal. Almost 18 years in the game and they’ve yet to claw their way out of the darkest depths of the underground. Firmly rooted in the sound of that glorious age when thrash metal was just starting to push into deadlier realms and mutate into death metal, NervoChaos ‘s sixth full-length, The Art of Vengeance, benefits from a modern recording, but is brazenly old school with just enough modern twists to remain relevant.
I reviewed their 1998 debut, Pay Back Time, for my old webzine Unchain the Underground (where our Jedi Master, Angry Metal Guy got his metal writing start) and haven’t listened to it in a good ten years, yet I can still sing the chorus to the eponymous track. That album had real teeth and, sixteen years later, NervoChaos have produced another excellent slab, playing in a very controlled fashion, comfortable in their pace and arrangements and content writing solid and catchy music.
“The Harvest” is a fun, thrashy romp replete with Vio-Lence style gang vocals, a great memorable chorus, and Glen Benton-ish doubled vocals. Despite clear leanings towards death metal, this is the closest to straight up thrash. “For Passion Not Fashion” is a prime example of what NervoChaos do best. The opening riff has the endearing awkwardness of the olden days. Think the classic section a minute in to Anvil‘s “Metal on Metal” or the opening of Morbid Angel‘s Abominations of Desolation version of “Chapel of Ghouls” (which, incidentally, is far superior to the Altars of Madness version). Perhaps because they’ve been at it so long, NervoChaos are adept at writing riffs that sound classic but not dated. “From Below and Not Above” is a slow, grooving track that never gets above a mid-paced chug, with a main guitar riff akin to the aforementioned Morbid Angel and a great, emotive and guttural vocal performance.
The guitar rake opening riff of “Blood Ritual” sounds like something Forced Entry‘s Brad Hull may have written if he was on Quaaludes and is the most progressive moment on the whole album. “What is Dead May Never Die” is straight up old school death metal, offering nothing new in terms of extremity, but hammers home that NervoChaos can deliver the goods like a no-frills steak, bloody and mooing. “Lightless” closes the proceedings and kicks off with a very Incantation-ish riff and it doesn’t stop there. The plodding pace and tortured vocal delivery are straight up lifted from “Abolishment of Immaculate Serenity,” Incantation‘s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” off Mortal Throne of Nazarene, but with a less oppressive and suffocating production. The song absolutely crushes throughout, picking up the pace until it becomes the most frenzied passage of the whole album, leaving off on a high note from out of the deepest pit. Bookending the album with it’s thrashiest track and most straight up death metal was an interesting choice and exemplifies all that NervoChaos explore on The Art of Vengeance. The production is grimy enough to lend atmosphere to the deathlier moments, but with enough clarity that when the kick snare thrash is full blast, the riffs are never lost in a wall of sound. Deliciously dirty yet never at the expense of clarity.
By taking decades of extreme music spanning from the genesis of death metal through it’s golden years, and morphing them into one slab of brutality, NervoChaos have provided us with a fine reminder of what good metal is. It sticks in your ear like an icepick and pummels you into pulp with a blunt instrument. Some metal is about showcasing virtuosity and achieving new levels of innovation. Some bands push the envelope into more vile and offensive territories and make an impact by being as over the top and brutal as possible. NervoChaos give you a healthy ass kicking, and strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger. They may not be breaking new ground, but rest assured, their wallet is the one that says, “Bad Mother Fucker.”