Nervecell – Past, Present…Torture (Lifeforce)

Friday, 25th August 2017
Rating: 7.5/10

A quick look at the title “Past, Present…Torture” and it’s like, “Is this a best-of?” It sure sounds like it, but that could simply be a function of bands employing similar terminology for their own compilations. But alas, this is not a best-of, but rather Nervecell’s first album in six years. In spite of their spotty output, Nervecell remains the first name in Dubai extreme metal, an outlier of a musical hotbed, even by death metal’s lofty standards. And it translates into the band’s music, with a mild, albeit present Middle Eastern edge topping off songs that are full-on brutal. (As a note, the album title is to reflect the current state of the world and “where we are headed as a civilization.”)

Production is manned by the Hertz Studio (Poland) team of Wojtek and Slawek Wiesawski, who like their recent Decapitated and Vader productions, bring Nervecell into modern death metal territory. Being that Nervecell often displays nothing else but sheer brutality, it comes in handy, with the band operating like a less maniacal Nile, throwing around nimble drum peel-offs and Slayer-like solos. In turn, it’s an avalanche of extremity across numbers like “Proxy War,” the simply slamming “D.N.A. (Diruo Nocens Acervus)” (love that opening riff) and “Dawn of Decimation.”

What pulls Past, Present…Torture a little sideways is that halfway through, you’re in dire need of a reprieve from its unrelenting nature. While the band had the good sense to toss in some instrumental interludes to break up the flow, they’re only a brief deterrent from an album that threatens to cave under the sheer weight of brutality. Perhaps it’s only fitting for a band from one of the world’s most exotic locales.

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