Review Summary: A fever dream you don't want to shake.
Heavy music has always found itself painted into a corner. Critically, new releases are written off as either derivative or juvenile. The bands themselves also seem intent to let you know what they sound like through album art alone. While genre bending occurs often, it never amounts to much more than a guitar solo in a hardcore song. Artists are forced to claim a primary allegiance to one genre in order to find an audience.
With its first release, Minneapolis four-piece Nerves have not created an entirely new genre, so settle down nerds. What they have done may be an even more impressive feat. They have scoured the corners of extreme music and reconvened with quite a range of disparate influences. Their self-titled album features the angular, atonal guitar solos and opaque, darkly poetic lyrics of Meshuggah, the raw energy, emotion and volume of Converge, and both the big riffs and psychedelic atmosphere of Mastodon. I could continue filling that run-on sentence with references until I hit 500 words, but I’ll stick to the rule of threes. Any fan of heavy music will enjoy picking out the nods to different genres and bands throughout the run time, although “enjoy” is a funny word to use as the overall tone of the album sounds something like a fever dream.
It’s not the sheer number of influences found in the relatively short 25 minutes that impresses, but how cohesive they sound when combined. Even with, and perhaps because of, the fingerprints of other artists all over their sound Nerves have found their own voice, an impressive achievement for such a young band on their first release. Whether they are punishingly loud and crushing (“Appears Shrouded Through Mire-Dim Light” ends with all hell breaking loose and the band demanding you “give up”), or plucking out a trance-like jam (the last minute of “Spilling Fingernails and Bloodsap”) Nerves shines.
Overall this is a very promising first release from a very young band. They’ve found a voice for themselves and executed it well over the seven tracks on the album. The short runtime works to their advantage, as the record plays more like one long song than a collection of tracks. Hopefully, with their wealth of influence and talent, Nerves can find a broad audience and metalheads, hardcore kids, crust punks, and their mothers can bang their heads as one.