Nervosa is still evolving.
Created in 2010 in Brazil, and led since 2020 by founder Prika Amaral (guitar), the band is completed by Helena Kotina (guitar), Hel Pyre (bass, W.E.B., Afterblood) and Michaela Naydenova (drums, Ember & Dust, ex-Gwendydd). Following the departure of their vocalist in 2022, Prika took over the singer’s role, which we discover in 2023 on Jailbreak, their fifth album.
The first track, Endless Ambition, proves both the band’s motivation and strength. Solid riffs and furious vocal parts mingle in this wave of fury, letting sharp leads emerge from the frantic rhythm to give it a metallic relief before Suffocare follows up with raw catchy tones. The mix also lets a thick bass hum in the background, while harmonics literally carve their way through to Ungrateful, a rather Old School but motivating track letting blast at the main role for a solid composition packed with explosive leads. The band allows us to take a breather with the melodious introduction to Seed Of Death, which sweeps us away in its melancholy before the riffs strengthen, creating an interesting contrast that we also find on the heady chorus. The band returns to pure violence with Jailbreak, the eponymous track, which kicks us into high gear while retaining a melodic approach thanks to the well-crafted guitars, before Sacrifice offers its darker ambience, offset by the ever-energetic drums. Behind The Wall then turns to Melodic Death with a massive sound, reminiscent of a Swedish band who have also been on the road since 1995. The heavy break will undoubtedly cause a few neck aches, which are also sustained by Kill Or Die and its fairly simple but highly effective riffs, which rely on unifying patterns. The band calls on Gary Holt (Exodus, ex-Slayer) for When The Truth Is A Lie, which introduces itself with an ominous intro before laying down a heavy rhythm, then it’s Lena Scissorhands (Infected Rain, Death Dealer Union) who joins the musicians to lay down her vocals on Superstition Failed and its devastating double vocal parts. Gates To The Fall follows with effective Death Metal influences allowing guitars to also place piercing parts while the rhythm section rolls over us, before Elements Of Sin takes its place to unleash a similar fury that’s sure to get necks wagging. The band closes the album with Nail The Coffin, paying homage to their almost cheerful Thrash roots, as well as epic lead parts.
Despite the accumulation of obstacles, Nervosa has always been able to bounce back and adapt. Jailbreak, the result of their new line-up, incorporates ever more different influences, passing seamlessly through Heavy or Death Metal when necessary, to deliver a catchy sound.
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Nervosa without using the usual musical labels, such as “Metal” or “Thrash”?
Helena Kotina (guitar): Hello, thank you very much for having me here!! I am Helena Kotina, guitarist of Nervosa, an all female band.
How do you personally link the name Nervosa to the band’s music identity?
Helena: I think the name with the style and the songs of the band is making perfect match. Both are very furious, full of nerve and power.
The band’s fifth full-length, Jailbreak, is nearly out, how do you feel about it? Do you already have some feedback?
Helena: I am super happy and excited about the release of Jailbreak. Finally we are able to show to the people what we have been working on the last year and finally the time has come to also play all these songs live on stage. This was a moment I’ve been waiting patiently for and also seeing a lot of people, music magazines and webzines giving great reviews about it is a great reward for us.
How would you sum Jailbreak’s identity up in only three words?
Helena: In The Face hahahaha, just kidding I would say maybe Thrash/Heavy Metal.
How did the composition process happen for Jailbreak? Is it easy to compose and create music as an international band?
Helena: Absolutely, it was more easy than we thought and more easy than it sounds like. Jailbreak was created in almost three parts. In the beginning when we had enough material to work with, Prika came for a month in Greece in order to really start building up the album. I think by that time we managed to musically finish more than half of the album. On the second round we continued composing and adding ideas and the third part was done in the studio where we finished all the compositions, recordings and details.
What about the artwork, what were the guidelines and how do they fit with the music you created?
Helena: The artwork was done by Alcides Burns from Brazil and we preferred not to give too many guidelines cause sometimes the artist is coming up with things that you might never have thought about. So, we just gave him the song to listen to, explained him the lyrics and he came back with an amazing result. The idea about the skull taking of the mask and the chains makes perfect sense with the word Jailbreak cause by this word we are not talking about an actual real jail but about the jail that we are building to ourselves or other people are building for us and the fake person we are becoming in order for other people to like us.
The band plays a massive and energetic Thrash Metal, but I also noticed other influences, like some Heavy Metal on the eponymous track Jailbreak, on lead guitar parts mainly. How do you deal with injecting influences to keep everything balanced?
Helena: Absolutely, this was something that we wanted from the beginning. We wanted to keep the original Nervosa style but also start adding new elements and of course now with two guitars all these things like melodies, twin guitar solos are more doable. Both me and Prika we are huge fans of classic Metal bands such as Motörhead, Judas Priest so it was time for these influences to get in.
You have two guests on the album Jailbreak, guitarist Gary Holt (Exodus, ex-Slayer) on When the Truth Is a Lie, and singer Lena Scissorhands (Infected Rain, Death Dealer Union) on Superstition Failed. How did you get in touch with them, and how did you ask them to participate in those songs?
Helena: Yes, from the beginning we had in mind that we wanted to have one participation in guitars and one in vocals. Gary Holt was always in the top of our minds and we are huge fans of him so we messaged him and he replayed really fast and with a very positive answer. In between of his tours with Exodus he delivered a very signature solo of him and made a dream come true for us. About Lena we are really admiring the work that she is doing with Infected Rain and we thought that her voice and tone would really fit together with Prika’s and so it did. We were super happy with the result!!
Maybe you have a favorite song on this album? Or maybe the hardest one to achieve for the album?
Helena: Hmm you know it’s impossible to choose only one song but I can tell you a story. When we were in the studio almost finishing everything from composing Nailed the Coffin was a very interesting song for me but still I was more fascinated with other songs. When we finished all the details of this song and we had it mixed, I can tell you that I was blown.
The band recently faced lineup changes around founder guitarist Prika Amaral, how did the band face the departure and hiring of those musicians?
Helena: Everybody is taking their own decisions and we were informed months ago about the departure of previous members so, Prika decided to take on the main vocals and we went on by contacted the drummer Michaela Naydenova to come and compose and record drums and later on before the shootings of the video clips Hel Pyre also joined forces. We are very happy with the way things are now because everything has a natural flow and also because we have already done some tours and festivals we are feeling stronger and connected.
How does it feel to be an “all-girl band” in the Metal world?
Helena: It feels good. Things are not in the same way they used to be years ago. Female musicians are becoming more and more, female bands are also more than they used to be in the past and that’s a really positive thing. This kind of difference that existed between male and female in Metal music is almost gone.
I didn’t have the opportunity to see a Nervosa live show with the new lineup yet, how do you feel when you’re on stage?
Helena: As I said a bit before we are very happy about the connection that we have in and out of stage. We met each other and started working together in a really short period of time but we realized that the connection was very natural. On stage for me I believe we are on the point that we have learn each other, we feel very safe playing together and we enjoy it more and more.
You played at a few European festivals this summer, how were the shows? What was for you the best memory of those shows?
Helena: Yes, it was a really crazy summer with a lot of great festivals but I think I would mention Wacken Open Air. This was a really special and adventurous day for us as there were so many obstacles like flight cancellations, delays, bad weather conditions but at the end we made it and by the time we were hitting the stage of one of the most legendary festivals also our second single was released. So, it was double happiness for us.
Are there any musicians or artists you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for one song, or maybe more.
Helena: Oh yeah absolutely. When it comes to things like these the list is never ending. Of course I would like to play with all my heroes and especially Scorpions and Judas Priest.
If you had to organize a concert for Jailbreak’s release show, which bands would you love to play with? I let you create a poster with Nervosa and three other bands!
Helena: That’s a great question. Ok, I would go for Scorpions, Judas Priest and Metallica. I think they are more than enough hahaha.