Some Nerve has been gigging with legendary bands like MDC, Casualties, Negative Approach, and 7 Seconds since rising from the local scene in 2013. On their new self-titled album, released by Dying Scene Records, they offer explosive, potent, metal-punk hybrids that leave play-by-numbers bands in the dust.
Almost effortlessly, they seem to weave the bellicosity and dark-encrusted atmospheric thrust of bands like From Ashes Rise with the grim punk politics and bottom-end bass blitzkrieg of Final Conflict, while also echoing the brooding musical dexterity of Darkest Hour.
Tunes like "Held Hostage" are both fiercely focused and limber, setting the tone and style of the entire work. The song's center of gravity is "the idea that we're never truly in complete control of our own lives," explains guitarist and back-up vocalist Allan Davis, who also recorded, mixed, and mastered the album last winter. "We have a knife held to our back, and they require us to partake in capitalistic constructs for us to even think about doing anything we want."
Such metacognition seeps through the album: their songs do not amount to a typical underdog's stabs at the system's stark targets like presidents and rogue corporations, although they do examine the Patriot Act in "The Patriot." Instead, Some Nerve warily eyes the seepage of misinformation and propaganda that entangle people's lives in ever tighter nooses. "What We Don't See" and "How Can We Be Safe?" both have similar themes," attests Davis, like "covering the information that the media lies about and hides from us" and "the stories that the news blasts on air that keeps us all on the edge of our seats.
In other words, "fearmongering," he says.
"Porcelain Thrown" may offer a few familiar heavy-duty metallic riffs that date to Slayer, Cryptic Slaughter or Morbid Saint, but they don't sound overly borrowed or lazily lifted. Plus, the theme, which examines the media's complicity in shaping diseases like bulimia in young women, is far from typical fare too.
Granted, the band does dose up on some gore and the macabre at times, like "Texas Massacre." Replete with soccer stadium-style chorus chants and infused with an Iron Maiden-esque guitar solo, it should make metal traditionalists bang heads with glee while arms and fingers noodle along in air-guitar mimicry. But Some Nerve also knowingly takes the pulse of current times with sincere stabs at understanding carnage in all shapes and forms, like the downside of sending an entire generation of Americans to a confusing, far-off conflict as others listlessly play video games, eat another pile of hot wings, and search eHarmony.
"It's about sending off a young soldier to war," explains Davis. "He experiences tragedies of war, comes home with PTSD, and commits suicide. The end of the song explains how his parents who were once proud of his war hero son bury him."
With thousands currently undergoing such duress, the song is timely, a switch that makes the war wounded at home feel more important than any foreign-policy decree.
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In all, the vocals keep close to a vintage punk mode: gruff, tireless, and guttural, there are no weird effects, just a bomb blasted roar from Richard Chakalis as a counterpoint to the surging, agile finesse of drummer Shuja Yasin, whose precision cuts through the din. The band embodies such dualities. They are part raw, part well-oiled; part atavistic, part artistic.
As the recent concert by Italian crossover pioneers Raw Power proved, the territorial integrity of punk, hardcore, thrash and metalcore, among other splinters, has grown blurry over the years. Some Nerve seems to lift a little tissue from each genre, but never loses sight of their own vision of creating sinewy music that deftly avoids cliché and rote exercises of angst, fatalism and nostalgia.
They are smart, pertinent and persistent, but they also pack sizable, walloping hooks, glide through time-signature changes and etch intelligent, incisive tunes.
Some Nerve plays with Bury the Crown (album release), Dead to the World, Commie Hilfiger and Nine Minutes tomorrow night at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak. Doors open at 7 p.m. Their album is available on Bandcamp.
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