Nervosa – Two Thrash Nights in New EnglandTuesday, 16th August 2016
Nervosa/Suspended – August 7, 2016 – The Wreck Room, Peterborough, NH
Talk about having to roll with the punches. Imagine you’ve outlaid an extensive worldwide tour in support of your latest album, and two months in your drummer since 2013 up and quits following the final date of your European tour- leaving you in the lurch for impending North American dates including parts of Canada and the East Coast of the United States for the first time ever. Not wanting to disappoint, Brazilian thrash band Nervosa pounded the pavement, scouring the internet and fielding leads from fellow bands – fortunately scooping up Samantha Linda from Vancouver (who plays in Dead Asylum) to learn, rehearse, and be willing to tour all in a week’s time. The thrash train rolls on!
One of my favorite venues for metal and pizza in New England has always been the Wreck Room, as owner Charles Ayala has been a long-time follower of the metal scene. So it was great once again to be able to see this tour in this intimate, up close environment – even with the close to 3-hour drive time from my current stomping grounds. A Sunday show with doors at 6 pm, there would be four other bands on the bill from all parts of the New England/New York scene.
Grave Knight started off the proceedings, a newer Keene, NH act transformed from the remnants of thrash band Zombie Fighter. Four of the five are back at it in this more power/speed-oriented metal act, and for only playing out for 3 weeks at this point are ready to take command of the New England scene. Fusing together a lot of 80’s influences (think Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Megadeth) with nods to acts such as Holy Grail and Enforcer, there is plenty to enjoy about their twin guitar harmony and thunderous riff approach – along with a potent set of melodic pipes from vocalist Jaimes Friedman. Guitarists Justin Elbourn and Will Abdelnour feel off speed/power riffs with abandon, engaging the crowd with their fiery lead action as well. Of the four originals “Waste Rider” and “Huntsman’s Shadow” grabbed me the most – the final song a cover of the much missed 3 Inches of Blood “Deadly Sinners” – dedicated to Charles Ayala and performed at blistering intensity. Plenty to love and look forward to as they write more material and get down to recording soon.
East Coast thrash specialists Shallow Ground wasted no time establishing their power trio proficiency. Mixing up selections from their two full-lengths, cuts like “Once Again”, “The Black Rose”, and closer “Slayer of the Gods” (kiddingly foretold as a ‘lighter’ ballad by guitarist/vocalist Keith Letourneau) kept the temperature rising in the venue, ensuring maximum head banging action. Next to take the stage would be Boston-based Let Us Prey – receiving kudos for their outstanding The Saint of Killers EP. The five-piece waste no time getting down to business, their dark power/thrash metal style embodying a wide facet of influences. Vocalist Marc Lopes handled the feedback issues developing from his wireless mic as a professional – while the songs such as “Prey”, “Murder Thy Maker”, and the title track received rapturous applause from the audience. Big things are on the horizon – and you’d be well advised to hop onboard, as these gentlemen are going places. Moravia, New York’s NilExistence would be the heaviest act on the bill, an extreme death metal band that due to short-notice would tour as a four-piece (sans bassist). My first time taking in their sound, they certainly know how to write intricate and brutal material that is a little more progressive minded than most groups of that ilk. The heat would take me outside halfway through their set… but they didn’t disappoint those who dig extreme music.
Suspended is a three-piece New Mexico thrash band with dual vocalists (both can scream and growl), and they can carry their weight in heaviness for sure. Amanda Castillo may have been small in stature, but her guitar abilities prove she’s larger than life. Bassist Jessica Armstrong shares singing duties with Amanda, while Channing Concho handles the speed tempos and transitions with grace. Selections from their discography like “Escape the Pain” and “Undertaker” won over the crowd instantly – a mix of thrash and death influences from the late 80’s/early 90’s scene work very well to pummel, destroy, and encourage body movement.
Around 11:30 pm, Nervosa would finish the evening. Bassist/vocalist Fernanda Lira along with guitarist Prika Amaral and the aforementioned Samantha Linda did not disappoint. Crisp riffing and tight transitions, along with the proper metal facial expressions and attitude kept the listeners’ attention from first note to final crash. Fernanda would punctuate her raspy words with key evil death stares or often simulate particular words/phrases through physical motions, such as hand slices or fist flailing, while Prika peeled off the best speed riffs while whipping her blonde mane hair. Concentrating on their latest album Agony while throwing in a couple of early efforts like “Masked Betrayer” and “Death”, there was an added aggression to the live renditions of “Hypocrisy”, “Intolerance Means War” and “Hostages” that could not be denied. There’s a solid reason why they are gaining ground and respect not only with the new generation of metalheads, but also a lot of the old guard. Their 45-minute set flew by, and the band was more than willing to chat and take pictures with concert goers after the proceedings.
Merch sales certainly dictate things are going well (both Nervosa and Suspended were down to small size t-shirts), so be sure to check this out if it hits your area.
Nervosa/Suspended – August 10, 2016 – Cherry Street Station, Wallingford, CT
Needing a second dose of thrash insanity, the local CT date on a Wednesday would satiate my desires. Due to prior obligations I wouldn’t be able to take in any of the local acts, arriving 10 minutes into the NilExistence set. Able to better understand the band’s semi-technical meets aggressive death metal tendencies, the crowd was able to get into the songs fairly quickly. These guys are definitely going to bowl people over because of their sheer intensity, and do not be surprised if over the next few years this Rochester, NY act make stronger inroads up the underground chain.
Suspended wasted no time in impressing the ardent crowd with their heavier thrash style – even earning an encore by the end of their regular set. Guitarist Amanda Castillo used every inch of the stage platforms to impress, in addition to an occasional crowd walk through to headbang some more. The Cherry St. soundman Scotty was definitely a big fan of their songs, often coming down from his sound perch to give props and bump fists with the ladies on stage. “Beast Within” and “Prelude to Indignance” left the patrons screaming, clapping, and exhorting many ‘you kick ass’ remarks.
Nervosa would prove once again that they may not have been the first all-female thrash band to hail from Brazil, but they certainly are the hardest working and touring band that fire on all cylinders these days. Able to use their large tapestry backdrop of their latest album Agony for a change (many venues simply don’t have a big enough stage or space to accommodate it), the trio came out all guns blazing from the “Hypocrisy” tribal-oriented opener all the way through to the set closer “Into Moshpit”. Fernanda handles a lot of the drunken spectator talk in between songs professionally, even kidding herself regarding ‘typical stage banter most metal bands do’ like ‘Are you having a good time?’. Guitarist Prika Amaral often prefers to be more of the precision riff queen, and drummer Samantha Linda is gaining more comfort as the shows click by, even when dropping a drum stick in mid-fill stride, she locked back in within seconds.
As a final observation, since when is it ever acceptable to catcall musicians while they are on stage? Drunk or sober, they are they to perform for you – but that doesn’t give you the right to say ‘baby’ every time there’s a quiet moment in the set. Know your limits, enjoy yourself – but let the musicians do their job, and Nervosa certainly continue to prove to everyone why they are one of the best newer thrash groups to come from not only Brazil, but the entire world. Thank you for your time, great conversations in certain down times for both shows, and the relationships that are forged and made because of the genre we all love.