Nervosa – Downfall of Mankind

Some people strongly bemoan the downfall of thrash metal. Once it was the juggernaut of the underground scene, but it quickly rose and fell in terms of its popularity and domination in metal culture. It simply could not keep up with the extreme lengths of its brother, death metal. It rose too quickly and fell just the same. However, we should not sit around sad! Let us not wallow in misery and forlorn! Let’s instead look to the horizon, raise the horns, and jump in the mosh with Nervosa.

For the uninitiated, Nervosa is a three-piece all-female thrash band from Brazil. They come from the same old school mentality of Sepultura by introducing heavy politically minded lyrics and themes along with the complete go-for-broke sound of similar South American thrash metal bands. They also incorporate Pantera-style grooves and heavily borrowing Dimebag Darrell’s heavily distorted and unmistakable guitar tone. All of this culminates in a very distinct old school sound much closer to the punk roots but always just metal.

A lot of what is special about Nervosa is their identity. It’s not often that all female metal bands come around, let alone from South America. The members have a very unique perspective that should be identified and celebrated. They bring up lyrical topics that are not new to thrash, a widely known political subgenre, but are new in their thought. Many of their songs are about social liberation and freedom, be it in gender, racial or national politics. Despite their bellicose sound, bassist and vocalist Fernanda Lira is only ever discussing peace and unity, never espousing violence. “Raise Your Fist!”, despite its name, espouses these qualities. The song begins with audio tracks from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, Malcolm X’s “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself”, Malala Yousafzai is the voice of the voiceless, and several others about feminism being the radical thought of equal genders or living in societies where there is blind equal opportunity for all. Not only is the whole track an homage to thrash metal’s past as the voice of social and political change, but it’s also a unique discussion that the Brazilian members of an all-female band can lead.

But let’s not totally forget about the music here. These are some serious riffs. The album has that bulldozer-style crunch. This band is trying to plow you over with speed riffs and snare drum rhythms. Lira’s harsh growl just grinds you down even more. You couldn’t hear a better progression of riffs than “Kill the Silence.” This song goes all over the place at a breakneck pace. The chugging riff at the beginning sets up the pace, the growling vocals, acrobatic bridges, guitar breakdowns. You couldn’t ask for a better thrash present, but that’s a reflection of this record. It grinds, turns on the gas, and completely blows your mind. It’s just such a treat.

If this band is new to you, you’re in luck. Nervosa has been putting out records just like Downfall of Mankind since 2014. They have perfected this sound for a few years now, and it shows. While there may not be a lot of new thrash groups coming out now, there’s always a great record out every year. Some group gets a following and gets big. In 2018, it looks like that band might be Nervosa.

Downfall of Mankind is available now via Napalm Records.