The Art of Vengeance

Holy shit, Brazil’s Nervochaos are still going?  That’s pretty amazing, honestly.  These guys were always like the death metal band that was just right there biting at the larger pack, but never could seem to totally sink teeth into the flesh of the alphas.  I’ve had one of their albums, heard at least 3 more and never seem to be able to maintain enough interest to keep up with their output.  To their credit, the band’s “gone nuclear” take on death metal, frayed and cut by the shrapnel of thrash, hardcore and punk has never been bad but the production never comes out quite right or the songs start wearing on the attention span halfway through the album.  Drummer Eduardo Lane is the only original member remaining in a lineup that’s stayed remarkably solid since 2012’s simply “okay” To the Death.

Opener, “The Harvest” isn’t short on fury, but the gravitas is missing.  Where Guiller’s stuttering, “kick you in ass” riff breaks happen midway through the song I should be lit up like a roman candle on the beaches of Normandy.  It sucks to admit it, but I’m not.  The ingredients are here though…a throaty, carnivorous lead vocal element, head-banging thrash riffs, Lane throwing everything out from the double-kick to the blasts and a few gang shout-a-longs meant to spice up the chorus.  So, what in the name of malevolent creation is my ears’ problem then?  Ugh, first up the recording is flatter than a pancake, and just south of thinner than a piece of paper on the fast shit especially.  Vocally, it sounds great but the guitars never gain any weight where they need them most.  Whenever the speed kicks up and they try to nail a frenetic mosh, forget it!  For some reason I also remember the drum production being better than this on the last album as well.  Here it has more click than Fred Astaire’s favorite shoes.  “Pip, pap, pup, pip, pap, pup,” is about the only thing that sticks with me.  Nothing is anchoring the sound from bouncing all over the place, thusly hurting all of the good stuff Nervochaos could have going on as a result.

The kicker is (as we all know) albums are often recorded with a uniform sense in mind, so you know this is going to be trouble throughout the entire album.  There’s a difference between low fidelity and a weightless digital recording; one has charm and the other doesn’t.  “For Passion Not Fashion” is sludgier, and fucks with ascending/descending fretboard runs that bring in a little black metal coldness.  It’s a decent jam in the writing department, yet the production is so polished and pedestrian that I know I won’t be coming back for holiday seconds.  A solo could have dashed it up with some flavor, though it seems no one felt like taking a risk.  Onward and upwards, so, “The Devil’s Work” actually distills the speed down into a magmatic crumble that isn’t afraid to let its gut show.  The needed girth comes through here, and the riff is downright punishing especially whenever they drop things further into the nether of begotten doom heaves with sparse, slimebag chords, oppressive drumming and vomiting growls all sounding off.  Quiller rips a sweet solo that’s more melodic than it has any right to be in a song of this nature.  Even Felipe’s low-end gets a little bit of screen time here.  Yeah, more stuff like this please!  It almost feels like they are playing with a thicker production deck on this beast.

“Betrayed” jumps the nearest runaway train and goes right back to the band’s smash n’ bash with a drum sound that reckons of a nonsensical digital kit my band used once on a demo recording ‘cause the drummer was too fuckin’ lazy to bring his kit.  We were a doom band and it made us sound like Ministry.  I mean no disrespect to Eduardo, but the aesthetics of the skins aren’t pleasing on this at all.  The solo in this one is pretty nasty, so there is that.  The mid-tempo returns on “From Below and Not Above,” which I’m digging a lot more.  It’s no secret I can get down with Jungle Rot’s doom-ier material such as Dead and Buried.  This is filthy sludge wrapped up in a DM package.  It’s odd they can display such thickness on the slow jams when the fast stuff is so brittle.  If they made a full-album of music in this vein they’d probably have a fan.

The rest of the album blows through like a hurricane though never leaves anything in its wake except for a handful of savory moments.  “Blood Ritual” would be mostly a ho-hummer if not for the cool bass-break that lends it much needed identity.  “Rotten Moralismo,” “Shadows of Destruction,” “What is Dead May Never Die” and “The Legacy is Pain” are so similar I couldn’t tell them apart with a program.  An Olympus topping, sewer-smooched groove elevates “Ghost of the Past” above standard fare, although I can’t help recommending you fast-forward directly to the groove in question at 1:27.  Closer, “Lightless” is sheared from sloth hide and is another album standout.  Slow is the way to go for Nervochaos, obviously.

It pains me to be critical of Nervochaos because I’ve always wanted to flip a switch over these guys.  Their hearts are obviously in the right place, and once they cull the manic energy they really have a knack for MONSTER riffage.  So, it’s not like there aren’t any great ideas on The Art of Vengeance.  There are…just not enough.  Whoever recorded and mixed this should also stay away from the soundboard from here on out.  Scrap 60% of this album, keep the other 40 and you’ve definitely got something to work with.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
February 3rd, 2015


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