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Nervecell - Preaching Venom - 77%

I_Cast_No_Shadow, January 27th, 2010

Well, Nervecell happens to be the first death (/thrash) metal band I have encountered from the middle-east, and it was long after having my first listen to Preaching Venom that I discovered they’re from UAE, and trust me, after that, it had lifted my attention to this one and had me listen to the record again. That was the time when I had my playlist occupied by faster and more brutal western groups like Morbid Angel and Deicide and I comparatively found it a bit weaker. A multiple listens and I was steadily drenching into the tracks.

It begins with “As they Reign and Slither”, an acoustic intro, which engages a trace of middle-eastern flavor. This aroma of middle-eastern influence persists throughout the album and this has helped it become distinct amid several riffs which resemble to have arrived from other bands. I mean, this album illustrates a diverse similitude, e.g. the Beneath the Massacre sounding breakdown (“Flesh and Memories”, 2:51), Lamb of God sounding part (“Haute Monde Façade”, 2:10) among others.

When second track “Vicious Circle of Bloodshed” commences, it doesn’t give an indication at all that the album is more onto the technical side of death/thrash metal. I was expecting the record to be on the surface of old school death metal as the initial riffs of the track contain more tremolo parts than the style we find in the latter tracks. Saying this, I don’t mean there aren’t any technical pieces in this track. There are, especially in breakdowns, but these seem somewhat misplaced, arranged in untimely manner or rather unnecessary.

Melodic harmonies are regularly noticeable in between, and these are the parts where the middle-eastern folk tastes are mostly visible. “Beyond Our Sins” occurs to be the most melodic one among others. Acoustic guitar intros are usual in most tracks. One of which is the six-minute instrumental “Ratios”, accompanying few unusual tempo changes and progressions during first few minutes. This one is obviously the most diverse track in the album.

The guitar riffs are quite good but they don’t enclose brutality at most of the times. Technicalities and melodies overcome the existence of brutality. And one major concern is the positioning of melodic solos in the middle of death metal songs, which doesn’t quite fit well. While this arrangement seems to be alright in few parts, they sounded a little out of shape in others. The hardest riff comes out in the beginning of “Existence Ceased”, the last track, which is my favorite riff in the whole album. The drumming is awesomely done by Dave Haley. The accurate level of drumming is portrayed, in consideration to the rest of the instruments.

The vocals and lyrics are decent. The vocals aren’t surprising as we can find death growls of this quality in numerous other bands in the vast ocean of death metal, and the dual vocal attacks are properly assembled in tracks as “Beyond Our Sins” and “Demean”.

All in all, regardless of everything, Preaching Venom is a pretty good release from the Emirates band. It is fun to listen to, and is also likely to impress progressive and melodic metal listeners apart from death/thrash.

From the depths of islamic hell. - 88%

Shadespawn, October 1st, 2009

We are so anchored in our Western society and ways, entangled in our web of social, moral and ethical values, that we fail to see what is going on in the rest of the world. Blinded by mass media garbage and losing every possible connection to reality through mass information and globalization, that we fail to look upon creativity as incentive, as the reason for everything we do to express our anthropological and cultural traits. As soon as a disequilibrium evokes new, unfound or untypical causes, we are both afraid and curious of the effects. A typical modern association with the eastern cultures would be a rich oil sheikh or dictator dominating their lands, or "terrorists" and suicide bombers blowing this and that up. This of course is typical stupid thinking and forgets one elementary aspect: the interconnectivity between humans. As untypical and surprising as is Nervecell, hailing from the United Arab Emirates (the members actually each from different countries), a culture or region I know little to less about. Their debut album "Preaching Venom", however, sheds some light on this subject, teaching at least the basic emotive state, which one begins to discover with the listening of this LP.

Nervecell manages to create a modern, yet surprisingly authentic form of death/thrash Metal, that has sadly moved into the deepest underground or vanished completely from the face of modern day metal, as we know it. Their music is filled with aggressiveness, eager and pre-eminence, traits that have long lost their original meaning. This band however, knows how to set its course well, deliver amazing and impressive musical compositions that are ear candy for everybody who likes their modern day metal spicy. The riffs on every song are everything but boring and the guitar tune emits a certain "raspy" feeling to the music. While the band members themselves are not in the heart of their residual domain and the album was mixed in Poland in the infamous "Hertz Studio", the impressive thing is that this mixed salad is quite awe-inspiring.

The production is not flawless, but certainly over the top, without gaining those annoying loudness war traits (well some of them at the very least). The drums could use some spicying up, but apart from that, it's very enjoyable. A solid piece of work, if one would analyse the skeletal structure, we have an acoustic introduction, going along to the classical death/thrash song structures, with the occasional impressive tapping/solo/tapping solo, whatever you musical needs are, this album has it all. One could also compare at times with Necrophagist, although it is not nearly as technical for that matter, but still enough to turn my head. Overall a good album and a good band, worth seeing live and listening to. Give it a try.

( 1.10.09)

Quite good, though not flawless - 80%

davkov85, August 29th, 2009

On their promo sheet, Nervecell announces itself as „the most potential metal outfit in the Middle East”. Taken into account the fact that Melechesh (which is considered to be Israeli) moved to the Netherlands for many years, Tangorodrim split up and that I don’t really like Orphaned Land, in my view this is not very far from the truth. „Preaching the Venom” turns out to be a pretty strong release.

The music is a powerful mixture of thrash and death just in between music-wise and definitely on the death side regarding the vocals. The fusion is actually so successful that you can notice Swedish and American death, classic and neothrash influences, and even some melodeath harmonies and solos at the same time. Although there are fast parts on the release, they don’t commit the mistake of constantly blasting throughout the whole album; there are many slower and mid-paced themes too.

Besides the chugging they fortunately don’t forget about songwriting either. There are many well-done riffs on the album, and although not every song is perfect, none is definitely boring (however, the instrumental – but otherwise absolutely metal – track „Ratios” is a bit overplayed for me with its six and a half minute length.) Besides death / thrash, Eastern influences rear up their head time to time, and we can also hear some acoustic themes but only as decorative motifs. These parts fit the songs smoothly, mostly occurring at the slower interlude sections.

Technically speaking all musicians deliver well, but drummer David Haley deserves special mention. It’s a pleasure to listen to his play; he nicely filled the songs with ornaments but can also grind when needed. The guitar work is creative; right in the first song there are severed death staccato, some hardcore breakdown and a to-the-point melodeath solo peacefully put next to one another.

I only have two problems with this release. The first is the sound. It was mixed in Hertz Studio (Poland), where a number of Vader, Decapitated and Hate materials have been mixed; still, this is not groundbreaking. It’s enjoyable but could have borne some more polishing. Especially the guitars sound thin, mostly resembling to the thrash of the ’80s; and compared to that, the vocals got too much in the foreground.

The other problem is that some themes sound too déja vu to me. The opening riff of track two „Vicious Circle Of Bloodshed” is so familiar that I could swear on it that I have already heard it in a Dew-Scented song; and the harmony in the middle of the song just mirrors the beginning of „Murder One” by the not too well-known and already split-up band The Wake. But there are many more examples; I raised my head many times and tried to figure out from which song of Malevolent Creation (Cannibal Corpse, Carnal Forge, Kreator, Death, and even Psycroptic…) can be familiar what is just being played.

Apart from that, this is a surprisingly good album. We should also bear in mind how difficult it is to do metal there. Even if it is not legally forbidden to play such music in the Emirates (I know with certainty that it was in many other Arab countries such as Lebanon some years ago), it still can’t be easy in a country where there is practically no scene. In spite of all that Nervecell produced an album that measures up, even by American or Scandinavian standards. I hope to hear more from them.

Originally written for

Good but disoriented - 75%

Zenith_Apocalypse, August 7th, 2008

I stumbled upon this album by mere coincident and when I noticed that Dave Haley (Psycroptic) played the drum tracks on it, I felt like listening.

Everything is good but two stupid and totally unnecessary breakdowns. Damn, I detest those breakdowns. They don’t belong in death metal and since the band claims to be a band of the genre, they shouldn’t mix with the foul side of “metal”. It’s unforgivable and of course, hard to understand why anyone would include such piece of shit in their music. Very well…

The album contains both death and thrash riffs, and some are really good. The vocals are actually very good, though a bit monotonous but they flow dynamically with the music. That can also be said about the drumming on the album. Dave Haley being one crazy aussie behind the kit who is bashing his drums relentlessly but is never afraid to slow down. The drumming on this album is reminiscent of that he performs in Psycroptic.

Songwriting is also good in the variable aspects, in that sense that the songs never get stuck on one place, repeating itself. But it has some flaws though and it’s nothing bad really, not essentially. Besides the death and thrash riffs, they also use symphonic passages often containing guitar solos. Don’t get me wrong, these passages are all good but they feel totally misplaced. The contrast becomes too radiant when I’m beginning to think, whether I’m listening to a death metal-band or Iron Maiden. Thus, I find it disoriented. It’s like the band members aren’t sure what they want to sound like. This also triggers a feeling of a bit hasty production and premature release. And considering that the band have existed since 1999, although have changed several band members, it’s questionable why the sound isn’t more mature and spot on. Yet again, nothing is bad but it’s just that; all things do not mix together. Death metal and happy guitar solos is one of those things.

Anyhow, the album will appeal to those who appreciate good riffs and versatile death metal, with a somewhat thrashy touch to it. This, despite its minor flaws.