Name the first band that comes to mind when I say Brazil. OK, now name a second one. With some countries like Sweden, the choices are endless. The two picks made are usually based on my favorite bands or bands whose albums were most recently spun. In the case of countries like Brazil, my mind goes straight to timeless classics. Old-school Sepultura and Krisiun. But this game only works once. If you ask me again to name the first two Brazilian bands that come to mind, I will give the same answers. But what if you ask me to name a third? In that case, I’d add Nervosa to the list. Nervosa may have only been infants when their influences hit the scene, but these Brazilian thrashers have just as many balls. Well, sorta. At least the kind of balls an all-female Brazilian thrash band might have. Regardless which set of balls these gals have—figurative or physical ones—is beside the point. Their newest outing, Agony, will step on yours like a bag o’ bang snaps.
At the core of Nervosa stands heavy thrash (the California mixed with the German kind) and plenty of death influences. The thrashy influences of Agony make themselves present most in the form of acts like Sadus and Sodom. “Arrogance” delivers delivers heavy-as-hell riffage and Angelripper-like snarls from bassist/vocalist Fernanda Lira, while “Theory of Conspiracy” and “Intolerance Means War” offer Steve DiGiorgio thrash. Being that Lira is a big fan of DiGiorgio, it’s not surprising she would tear into her bass the way she does. For her best bass work, look no further than “Wayfarer.” Lira is also not shy when it comes to attacking the mic. Her vocal style taking an Angelripper and Chuck Schuldiner-like aggression to Out of Blood-era Darren Travis (Sadus).
Though Nervosa continues to cash in on their death metal influences, they never reach the same levels as 2014’s Victim of Yourself. Victim of Yourself‘s “Nasty Injury” and “Envious” are so goddamned heavy, you’d think Vader made a cameo. The death is still clear on Agony, but a touch more focused. Throughout Agony you will find heavy attacks and death-like interludes. On tracks like “Hostages” you even find some similarities to groups like Unleashed. And Lira’s Johnny Hedlund-like enunciation on “Hostages” only exaggerates the comparison.
But for all my praise, Agony still stands a step below its predecessor. Victim of Yourself is just so damn satisfying that Agony has a hard time trying to compete. A lot of it has to do with the rawness and spontaneity of Victim of Yourself. But it’s also due to the fact that Victim of Yourself has better songs. “Arrogance,” “Intolerance Means War,” and “Failed System” are the superior songs on Agony. But tracks like the Sodomized “Deception” and “Guerra Santa” just don’t stick. While tracks like “Theory of Conspiracy,” “Surrounded by Serpents,” and “Devastation” are just average. And then there is the ugly duckling of the album: “Wayfarer.” Bassy, bluesy, and chock full of clean vocals, “Wayfarer” is a bizarre twist. But, being that its a bonus track, it doesn’t deter from the rest of the album.
Despite the score, Agony is still a solid slab of thrash. Even though it doesn’t have the same memorability of the debut, it’s digestible forty-six minute run-time makes for an easy listen. Agony may not be able to compete against the Vektors of the world, but let’s be honest, it never intended to. No, instead you get an aggressive, loud platter of thrash meant to summon that pissed-off teenager in you that is now forced to wear a shirt and tie. So, pull out your steel-plated middle school jock strap and let Nervosa dig in its heel.