Metal Chick of the Month – Thais Amaral

Soldado não para!

If you’re a fan of the Crossover Thrash played by bands like Sepultura and Lamb of God, but at the same time highly influenced by Alternative and New Metal the likes of Korn, Jinjer and Deftones, get ready to be absolutely stunned by our metal chick of the month of November, who’s more than ready to rock like there’s no tomorrow together with her bandmates from a Brazilian band that goes by the stylish name of Endigna. Owner of a potent and versatile voice, she can deliver first-class clean vocals as well as demonic roars to our avid ears, both in Brazilian Portuguese and in English, leaving us all disoriented after her sonic attack is said and done. I’m talking about Thais Amaral, also known as Thais Endigna or even Babby Drunk, not only the frontwoman for Endigna but also a woman that brings a very welcome (and aggressive) feminine touch to a scene dominated by men.

Born and raised in Taboão da Serra, a municipality in the state of São Paulo in Brazil and part of the Metropolitan Region of the city of São Paulo, Thais started her life in music when she was around 8 or 9 years old because of the religious direction of her own family. As part of a gospel family, she got used to seeing people around her singing and playing different musical instruments; however, she only got interested in singing, never in playing an instrument, which led her to be part of the children’s choir at her church, moving on to the teenage group and to the youth group, later forming an all-female quintet where they used to sing a slightly different musical style more inclined to Soul and R&B. Although she decided to leave the church only when she was 16, she used to listen to a lot of rock music from the 90’s since she was around 12, which ended up having a huge influence on her desire to have her own band. That dream kind of came true when she was about to turn 18 years old, in 2003, when she formed a band named Goma 84, which unfortunately lasted for only two years until it was dissolved due to the different musical directions each member wanted to take. Through the years, apart from popular singing, Thais has also been enrolled in a course at IC&T – Instituto de Canto e Tecnologia in São Paulo, Brazil specialized in Heavy Metal vocal techniques, taught by Brazilian vocalist Thiago Bianchi (Shaman, Noturnall).

It was in 2007 that Thais formed her current band Endigna together with drummer (and also her husband) Tiago Sorrentino, aiming at showing a more aggressive side of rock and metal with lyrics in Portuguese, dealing with different introspective and rebellious topics. Highly influenced by renowned acts like Sepultura, Pantera, Lamb of God and Korn, as well as some very interesting names of the Brazilian scene such as Nação Zumbi and Raimundos, the band comprised of our metal lady Thais Amaral (or in this case Babby Drunk) on vocals, Tom Ayres on the guitar, Bruno Mota on bass and Tiago Sorrentino on drums released their debut EP entitled Soldado Não Para (which would translate as “a soldier doesn’t stop” or “a soldier never stops” from Portuguese) in 2014, and despite all the changes in their lineup through the years the band has solidified their name in the Brazilian underground scene, having already played in several cities across the country. At first, when the band was created, Thais and her bandmates were not exactly sure of what they wanted to do apart from obviously having fun playing in a metal band, and what started as a form of entertainment with the band playing cover songs from bands like Sepultura, System of a Down and Disturbed (like this live footage from 2012 where they play the classic Down with the Sickness), plus a couple of original compositions, quickly evolved to a more serious project, attracting more and more people curious to see that fusion of extreme music with female clean and harsh vocals.

In 2018, while Endigna was recording their first full-length album, Thais and Tiago faced a lot of problems with lineup changes and different musical ideas, which forced Thais to end the recordings and put an end also to Endigna as a band. However, after uploading on YouTube a vocal cover video for the song Pisces, by one of her favorite bands, Ukrainian metallers Jinjer, Thais was informed the video was not only seen by Jinjer themselves, but the band posted it on their official Facebook page, acknowledging it as the best cover version to one of their songs they’ve ever seen. If that wasn’t enough to make Thais extremely happy and proud of herself, Endigna were later invited to be the opening act for Jinjer at Manifesto Bar in São Paulo during their Latin American tour that year. Needless to say, that was a dream come true for Thais and the boys, re-igniting the fire inside Endigna for the delight of all fans of the band. If you want to enjoy the flammable music and live performances by Thais and her bandmates from Endigna, I recommend you take a good look and and even better listen at several Youtube videos from their official channel such as De Mãos Dadas, Pecado, Soldado Não Para, Lei Da Obediência, and several live videos like Morre Que Passa, Salvação at Mineiro Rock Bar, Pecado and Cara Da Derrota at Manifesto Bar in 2015, and Salvação, Sufocante and Lei Da Obediência live at Crazy Festival at Led Slay in 2011. Also ,don’t forget to check their SoundCloud page and official Instagram profile to know more about the band and their music.

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Apaart from her career with Endigna, our dauntless Thais can also be seen singing on the song Olho por Olho (which literally translates as “eye for an eye”) by a very peculiar project curiously named D.A.T.E.N.N.A (Desgraceiras Aterradoras Televisionadas Em Notícias Nada Agradáveis), a wordplay with the name of a Brazilian journalist who hosts a hideous TV show that deals mostly with the urban violence and nasty crimes in various regions of Brazil, as well as her aforementioned YouTube channel where you can find her vocal covers for Jinjer’s Pisces and Arch Enemy’s Reason To Believe, featuring special guest Hebberty Taurus,  guitarist for a Brazilian metal band called Dakhmas. Furthermore, Thais is also a skillful tattoo artist, running her own studio called Thais Amaral Tattoo in her hometown Taboão Da Serra (and you can get more details about the studio directly from its Facebook page or Instagram).

Regarding her biggest idols, influences and favorite bands and artists, Thais always mentions in her interviews iconic groups like Lamb Of God, Slayer, Deftones, Otep, Faith No More, A Perfect Circle, Tool and Stone Temple Pilots, and even pop artists like Beyoncé and P!nk; in addition, Thais also said in one of her social media profiles that the saddest song she’s ever listened to is Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven, the movie she’s watched the most in her life is The Craft, from 1996, saying she even owns it in VHS and DVD, and that she recommends the song Kriptonita, by a band named Ludov, for anyone who’s looking for good music from the Brazilian rock scene.

Thais, who by the way has been suffering from bulimia for several years but that fortunately has also been able to control that inner monster, said in one of her interviews that although the rock and metal scene are still considered sexist by many, she doesn’t really feel that difference or discrimination as she works better with guys than with girls, but that she obviously understands from a viewer standpoint that there’s a lot more pressure on women than on men. Also, our talented growler currently enjoys full support from her family in regards to her career as a musician, complementing by saying that this wasn’t the case in the beginning as the type of music played by Endigna isn’t exactly what we can consider a cash cow. Nevertheless, Thais and Endigna truly love to hit the stage and kick some serious asses, with her “ritual” before her live performances including a facial muscle warm-up, vocalizations and gargling with lukewarm water to drain her vocal chords, and after the concert is over she doesn’t talk or say anything for four or six hours to recover her voice.

Lastly, when asked about the rock and metal scene in her hometown and in the rest of Brazil, Thais said that there are countless amazing bands all over the country that deserve our attention, despite of course all hassles and barriers faced by any underground band that plays heavy music. She complemented by saying that her interaction with all organizers, as well as with all fans of heavy music, is always fantastic, praising the hard work by everyone involve in all festivals and events where Endigna played and saying she loves to interact with the fans, without whom Endigna wouldn’t exist in her opinion, also mentioning the importance of the internet for the band to spread their music, their videos and tour dates. And, as a bonus, if you speak fluent Brazilian Portuguese or have a very good understanding of the language, simply sit down, relax and enjoy this nice interview with Thais to a series called “A Cena É Delas” for Motim Underground, where she talks about everything that was mentioned above and more, focusing on the role of women in the current scene, showing that the underground in Brazil is stronger than ever with talented musicians like Thais proudly carrying the flag of heavy music wherever they go.

Thais Amaral’s Official Facebook page
Thais Amaral’s Official Instagram
Thais Amaral’s Official Twitter
Thais Amaral’s Official YouTube channel
Endigna’s Official Facebook page

Endigna’s Official Instagram
Endigna’s Official Twitter
Endigna’s Official YouTube channel

Album Review – Quilombo / Itankale EP (2019)

The history and evolution of Afro-descendants told by the black hands of a ruthless Death Metal and Grindcore unity from Brazil.

Formed in 2018 by drummer and vocalist Panda Reis (Oligarquia, Armagedom, Brigada do Ódio, Heresia 666), who’s also involved in several amazing endeavors such as an educational and cultural project named Coyote Vive, and guitarist and bassist Allan Kallid (Oligarquia) in São Paulo, the most populous city in Brazil and one of the biggest cities in the world, Death Metal/Grindcore unity Quilombo is among us to tell the evolution of Afro-descendants all over the world as well as the technological history from the African continent in their debut EP, entitled Itankale. Their main objective with Itankale is not political, though, but to unveil the truth about the African slaves taken from their homelands, from their people and from their culture to live a new reality in Brazil, the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery, using the most underground of all music styles, our relentless Heavy Metal, as the perfect soundtrack for their speech.

Featuring an impactful artwork by Brazilian artist Artur Fontenelle, showing some of the greatest icons in the African-American history, and recorded and mixed at O Beco Estudio, Itankale is the voice of the voiceless, telling the history of slavery from the standpoint of the slaves themselves, who were discriminated, persecuted, tortured, raped and killed, but that never gave up, surviving an endless period of pain in the hands of the white man. Furthermore, according to Panda and Allan themselves, Quilombo are not trying to generate any controversy, fights or turmoil with other people, but to provide the view of those who were not allowed to write or speak to anyone about their reality. Based on historical sources that have been ignored until now purely due to ideological and political issues to maintain the status quo, Quilombo will crush your senses with their visceral Death Metal in Itankale, writing with their own black hands about all the suffering and sorrow that haunted the souls of their African ancestors for centuries.

In the opening track, simply titled Melanina (or “melanin” in English), we already face an intro that’s completely different from everything you might have ever heard, showcasing intonations and vocalizations inspired by the African culture before exploding into a sonic devastation overflowing rebelliousness and rage, led by Panda’s demented drumming and sick growls while Allan cuts our skin deep with his riffs. Put differently, this is one of those songs that will leave a mark on your psyche, sounding very unique and raw like the music found in Sepultura’s masterpiece Roots. Ancestralidade (“ancestry”) is another song with an eccentric intro that morphs into a carnivorous feast of Death Metal where Panda smashes his drums like a beast, also vociferating the song’s austere lyrics deeply and rabidly and with guest Binho Gerônimo bringing an extra kick to the music with his tribal percussion, followed by Treze Nações (“thirteen nations”), showcasing a capoeira-inspired intro and of course sheer savagery in the form of Death Metal and Grindcore, sounding as fast and heavy as it can be. Needless to say, Panda shows no mercy for his drums while Allan is on fire with his riffs, with their already violent musicality being effectively spiced up by guest Guilherme Sorbello’s deranged vocals.

Once again paying a powerful tribute to their Africa roots and their music, Descendentes de Reis (“descendants of kings”) reminds me of some of the most brutal creations by their countrymen Ratos de Porão, which obviously translates into awesomeness, whereas in Semideusas (“demigods”) it’s time to talk (and growl) about the importance of women in the African culture, flirting with old school Punk Rock. In addition, the wicked guitar riffs and solos by Allan mixed with Panda’s infernal roars provide the listener all that’s needed for some brutal slamming into the circle pit. And closing the EP we have Diáspora D.C. (“diaspora A.D.”), bringing hints of classic Reggae music in its intro but again quickly morphing into one final blast of aggressive and frantic Death Metal, with Panda sounding truly enraged on vocals and with its primeval, tribal finale putting a glorious ending to the album.

If you want to put your hands on Itankale, which by the way is available for a full listen on SoundCloud, you can contact Quilombo directly through their Facebook page or by sending an email to Panda himself, with the cost of the physical copy of the album being only 10 Brazilian Reais (plus shipping costs). The band is also working on several partnerships to distribute their album all over the Brazilian territory, with stores like Paranoid Records and Die Hard Records, both located in the famous Galeria do Rock in São Paulo, already being confirmed as part of the band’s distribution list. It’s not everyday that we are able to enjoy such distinguished and meaningful album of extreme music, and let’s hope that Quilombo keep giving a (heavy and thunderous) voice to all Afro-descendants for many years to come, it doesn’t matter if they’re metalheads or not.

Best moments of the album: Melanina and Treze Nações.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Poluição Sonora Records

Track listing
1. Melanina 6:44
2. Ancestralidade 4:33
3. Treze Nações 1:43
4. Descendentes de Reis 1:53
5. Semideusas 2:54
6. Diáspora D.C. 1:49

Band members
Panda Reis – vocals, drums
Allan Kalid – guitars, bass

Guest musicians
Bruno – bass (recording)
Binho Gerônimo – percussion
Guilherme Sorbello – vocals on “Treze Nações”

Album Review – Nervosa / Downfall Of Mankind (2018)

Slam into the pit to another killing hardcore thrashing bulldozer by Brazil’s meanest all-female Thrash Metal commando unit.

After two long years, here they finally are the unrelenting Brazilian all-female Thrash Metal commando unit Nervosa with a brand new and devastating album titled Downfall Of Mankind, delivering their usual raw aggression and untamed power throughout the album’s almost 50 minutes split into 14 compositions (including the limited edition bonus track) of killing hardcore thrash. In addition, the follow-up to their sensational 2016 release Agony marks their first with drummer Luana Dametto (who also plays drums for Brazilian Death Metal squad Apophizys), adding an extra touch of pugnacity to the band’s already heavier-than-hell and faster-than-a-bullet musicality and, therefore, providing lead singer and bassist Fernanda Lira and guitarist Prika Amaral all they need to keep haunting the souls of the lighthearted with their Thrash Metal tempest.

Downfall Of Mankind perfectly captures the live energy and the old school character that defines this São Paulo-based band without neglecting the strengths of a modern, compact soundscape, bringing the most pulverizing and sharp elements from all types of extreme music such as Thrash, Death and Black Metal, but of course always being deeply rooted in our beloved Bay Area Thrash sound. Featuring a demonic artwork by Brazilian artist Hugo Silva (Abracombie Ink), and with guest musicians João Gordo (Ratos de Porão), Rodrigo Oliveira (Korzus) and Michael Gilbert (Flotsam & Jetsam) providing their share of insanity and rage to Nervosa’s music, Downfall Of Mankind is definitely one of those albums that will inspire you to slam into the circle pit and bang your head like a maniac, two of the main goals in our good old Thrash Metal,  becoming a permanent part of your most metallic playlist.

An ominous intro takes us to the demonic realm ruled by Nervosa, who don’t waste a single second and start crushing our skulls with their ruthless Thrash Metal in Horrordome, with newcomer Luana simply demolishing her drums while Fernanda delivers her already classic she-demon gnarls. This berserk tune will surely generate some interesting mosh pits during their live concerts, which is also the case in Never Forget, Never Repeat, sounding even more devilish and pulverizing and showcasing the band’s heavy artillery at its finest. Prika seems to be mastering “the art of the riff”, delivering sheer brutality in a well-balanced fusion of Thrash and Death Metal, all complemented by the song’s utterly austere, old school lyrics (“Tyranny, bigotry / Crimes against humanity / Murder, persecution / Inprisonment subordination / Enough of genocides / Enough of bloodshed / Break this perpetration / Of history’s dark past”). Then toning down a bit their rage but still sounding brutal, the power trio blasts more of their thrashing music with their riffs and beats generating a menacing wall of sounds in Enslave, followed by Bleeding, presenting hints of the contemporary music by Cannibal Corpse (which is obviously a good thing) and with Fernanda taking her growls to a deeper, more hellish level, while Luana proves why she was the perfect choice as their new drummer.

After such level of destruction, get ready for an 80’s-inspired (or I should say old school Metallica-inspired) Thrash Metal attack by those three she-devils titled …And Justice For Whom?, where the unstoppable beats by Luana dictate the rhythm while Prika continues with her shredding onrush. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see them playing this one live. And Fernanda’s rumbling bass ignites a dark, mid-tempo tune beautifully titled Vultures, a good song to break your neck headbanging with Prika once again delivering cutting riffs from start to finish (despite the fact the song could have been a little shorter, though), whereas Kill The Silence brings a classic Nervosa sonority in terms of its pace, riffs and lyrics, led by the slashing guitar lines by Prika while Fernanda keeps growling and gnarling like a beast, therefore keeping the album at a truly high level of aggressiveness. Their sonic insanity goes on in No Mercy, a more rhythmic and groovy circle pit-generator with highlights to the solid job done by Luana on drums, and Raise Your Fist!, a rebellious anthem by Nervosa bringing forward an inspirational intro with historic speeches about freedom, gender equality and equal opportunities for all, such as the timeless one by Martin Luther King, Jr., sounding melodic, violent and electrifying, all at the same time. In other words, let’s all raise our fists up in the air to this insurgent hymn by Nervosa.

Downfall Of Mankind/Limited Edition Digipack CD Fan Package

And Nervosa still have energy left for more devastation, starting with the berserk Fear, Violence And Massacre, blending the most pulverizing elements from Thrash, Death and even Black Metal, with Prika firing an awesome, melodic guitar solo halfway through it, not to mention you’ll definitely feel the urge to scream the words “fear, violence and massacre” together with Fernanda; whereas although Conflict is a decent creation by the girls, it’s a bit too generic compared to the rest of the album. There’s a lot of good stuff in the song, though, such as the incendiary riffs by Prika and its frenzied pace. The last track from the regular version of Downfall Of Mankind is the superb Cultura do Estupro, with the iconic vocalist João Gordo (Ratos de Porão) sharing the vocal duties with Fernanda in the only song of the album entirely sung in Brazilian Portuguese. I really hope João joins Nervosa during some of their live concerts to sing this cataclysmic, acid tune, with Luana sounding simply demented behind her drums. Lastly, as a bonus track to the limited edition version of the album we have Selfish Battle, featuring Rodrigo Oliveira (Korzus) on drums and Michael Gilbert (Flotsam & Jetsam) providing a nice guitar solo in a slightly different version of Nervosa, feeling more like a heavier version of 80’s Hard Rock the likes of Warlock thanks mainly to the high-pitched vocals by Fernanda.

One can never get enough of Nervosa, and if you’re already addicted to their incendiary music go check what they’re up to on Facebook and purchase your copy of Downfall Of Mankind from their own BandCamp page or from several other locations such as the Napalm Records webstore, where you can get the deluxe fan package featuring the limited edition digipack, a cover flag, a patch, leather wriststraps and a tote bag. Also, don’t forget to watch the track by track breakdown of the album by the girls on YouTube (part 1 and part 2), and obviously to keep an eye on their official website and Facebook page for whenever they take your hometown by storm. Downfall Of Mankind once again proves that thrashing like there’s no tomorrow is Nervosa’s business, and they don’t need any guy to make sure that their business continues to be more than good.

Best moments of the album: Horrordome, Never Forget, Never Repeat, …And Justice For Whom? and Cultura do Estupro.

Worst moments of the album: Vultures and Conflict.

Released in 2018 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:12
2. Horrordome 3:17
3. Never Forget, Never Repeat 4:40
4. Enslave 3:15
5. Bleeding 3:47
6. …And Justice For Whom? 3:34
7. Vultures 4:09
8. Kill The Silence 3:29
9. No Mercy 3:40
10. Raise Your Fist! 4:04
11. Fear, Violence And Massacre 3:35
12. Conflict 2:59
13. Cultura do Estupro (feat. João Gordo) 3:10

Limited Edition/Digipak bonus track
14. Selfish Battle (feat. Michael Gilbert & Rodrigo Oliveira) 3:26

Band members
Fernanda Lira – lead vocals, bass
Prika Amaral – guitar, backing vocals
Luana Dametto – drums

Guest musicians
João Gordo – additional vocals on “Cultura do Estupro”
Michael Gilbert – guitar solo on “Selfish Battle”
Rodrigo Oliveira – drums on “Selfish Battle”

Metal Chick of the Month – Fernanda Lira

Join the army, get in the violent mosh!

There’s nothing better than revving up the engines of 2018 with the thunderous sound blasted by one of the meanest and most humble bassists in contemporary Thrash Metal, a woman who not only kicks some serious ass with her roaring bass guitar, but who’s also an accomplished Extreme Metal vocalist, growling and gnarling like a beast anywhere she goes for our total delight. With that said, please welcome as our first metal chick of the year the stunning and electrifying Brazilian musician Fernanda Lira, better known as the lead singer and bassist for Brazilian all-female Thrash Metal power trio Nervosa. And you better be ready, because Fernanda will accelerate your heart and mercilessly rock you like a hurricane with all her passion for heavy music, her devilish screams and, above all, the groovy wallops of her mighty bass.

Fernanda B. Lira was born on September 9, 1989 in São Paulo, one of the world’s most populous cities with over 20 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, having discovered her love for heavy music and for playing bass guitar at the age of 13, being influenced by her father, who was also a bass player (and with whom she remembers “jamming” with his acoustic guitar or “playing drums” on the leather couch as a child while he played) and a huge fan of bands like KISS and Venom, and by her biggest idol since childhood, Iron Maiden’s one and only Steve Harris. Furthermore, she never attended classes to learn how to play bass, always using her instincts and utter dedication to develop her skills as a musician, blending all that with her endless energy and aggressiveness to make her playing style truly unique. And despite deciding she wanted to be in a band when she was around 15 years old, Fernanda undertook several other endeavors before becoming (and even when she was already) the frontwoman for Nervosa, as for example studying journalism at Faculdade Cásper Líbero (the oldest journalism school in Latin America), working as an English teacher, and presenting a show called Heavy Nation on Rádio UOL together with her friend Julio Feriato from 2012 until 2015, among other projects.

Highly inspired by the aforementioned Steve Harris and by other renowned bassists such as Geezer Butler, Steve Di Giorgio, Geddy Lee, Ron Royce and Markus Grosskopf, our badass Fernanda eliminated the use of picks and dedicated herself to playing with her fingers, also trying to take down from the bass the function of only “marking” the rhythm of the music. Moreover, regarding her vocal inspirations, Fernanda has always tried to learn how to sing by imitating her metal idols Tarja Turunen, Michael Kiske and Geoff Tate; however, after she started working with more aggressive vocal-inspired bands, she began to migrate to a different style of singing, leaning towards a similar style used by extreme music singers Tom Araya (the iconic vocalist and bassist for Thrash Metal behemoths Slayer) and Schmier (from Teutonic Thrash Metal legends Destruction).

Before joining Nervosa, Fernanda was part of two other Brazilian metal bands, both hailing from the city of São Paulo, those being the all-female Heavy Metal act Hellgard (who played more melodic material the likes of Helloween and Edguy), from 2008 to 2009, and Thrash/Death Metal group HellArise, from 2009 to 2011, playing bass and doing some backing vocals, as well as playing bass live for a comedy Heavy Metal band known as Detonator e as Musas do Metal (which translates as “Detonator and the Muses of Metal”), in 2012. She recorded two demos in her pre-Nervosa era with those bands, one being a three-track demo with Hellgard titled Rise of a Kingdom, in 2009, and a four-track demo with HellArise named Human Disgrace, in 2010, with the title-track being re-recorded and re-released in 2016 already without Fernanda on bass. Apart from Hellgard, HellArise and obviously Nervosa, Fernanda was a guest musician for two distinct metal bands from Brazil in the past few years, Post-Black/Doom Metal act Fanttasma and Thrash Metal titans Torture Squad, and in both cases she acted as a guest vocalist, leaving her menacing bass guitar “dormant”, for lack of a better word. You can enjoy her potent vocals in the songs Metropolis and Life Is War, from Fanttasma’s 2013 album Another Sleepless Night, as well as in their 2014 single Voodoo, and in Torture Squad’s 2013 release Esquadrão de Tortura (throughout the entire album) and in their cover version for Coroner’s Divine Step, released as a bonus track for their 2017 opus Far Beyond Existence. And last but not least, she’s also featured in the song Carcaça de Outro Alguém, together with a band called Fire Strike, as part of a tribute album to the cult Brazilian Horror Punk band Zumbis do Espaço; in a partnership with Brazilian guitarist and producer Denis Di Lallo in a song called Struggle to Survive; and in countless live performances with distinct bands and musicians, like for example playing Slayer’s all-time classic Black Magic with Brazilian Thrash/Death Metal band Desaster.

It’s finally time to talk a little about her career with Nervosa, one of the most promising bands not only in Brazilian metal but in the entire world of Thrash and Death Metal. After quitting her previous bands, our raven-haired growler was already searching for an all-female thrash act when she met guitarist Prika Amaral, who already had Nervosa as a project and was in pursuit of a bassist and singer to bring the band into being, which ended up happening in 2010. And Nervosa have been on a roll since their inception, releasing their debut EP titled Time of Death, in 2012, followed by the full-length albums Victim of Yourself, in 2014, and more recently the underground masterpiece Agony, one of the top 10 metal albums of 2016 from our list. From all those three flammable releases by Nervosa, you can slam into the circle pit together with Fernanda and the girls to the songs Masked Betrayer, Death, Hostages and Guerra Santa (with a nice explanation of what this song is all about by Fernanda herself). As a matter of fact, in one of her interviews, our ass-kicking bassist explained in more details the concept behind Guerra Santa, which is Portuguese for “holy war”. According to Fernanda, this song “talks about all the intolerance that goes on when the subject is religion. Although this is not like a Black Metal song talking against God, Jesus or any religion because I totally respect people’s beliefs. So, this song is not against religion but against the way religion can be harmful sometimes; I mean, religions should be preaching about love, respect, being kind to the next of kin, doing good stuff but sometimes they preach about intolerance against like sexual orientation, races, other cultures – destroying temples of other religions – so what kind of good they bring?”

When asked about the fast and growing success of a relatively young band like Nervosa, Fernanda mentioned that metal is always renewing itself, and everything that’s new in metal, such as three girls playing furious and aggressive Thrash Metal like Nervosa, ends up catching a lot of attention from metalheads all over the world. In addition, she believes that, as part of the process, in some years that’s going to become more natural with more and more girls getting involved with metal. In my humble opinion, I strongly believe their music is what’s really driving their success in the heavy music scene, especially when Nervosa are performing live, and you can get a very good taste of their crushing thrash live in several videos on YouTube, such as the songs Time of Death at Estúdio Showlivre in 2012 in Brazil; Justice Be Done at Seis Tercios Sesiones in Colombia in 2014; Masked Betrayer, Victim of Yourself and Nasty Injury at Ao Vivo no Casarão in Brazil in 2013; and in distinct full live performances like their 2016 concerts in Bulgaria and Serbia, and in special their demolishing concert at Rock Al Parque in 2017, arguably the largest free rock festival not only in Colombia but in the entire continent. And Fernanda loves that life on the road and being on stage, having already visited a lot of different countries and cities, despite the fact she never has enough time to walk around and get to know more about the place she’s playing that night nor about its culture or people.

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As expected, Fernanda has already been asked numerous times how it feels to be an all-female band and about the growing importance of women in metal music. She said that, at the end of the day, we’re all metalheads nurturing the same passion and admiration for Heavy Metal. She complemented by saying she doesn’t really care about being gendered, because in her opinion being called an all-female Thrash Metal band is just a way to describe a specific genre, like Folk Metal, Black Metal, and so on, given the fact that there aren’t many known bands like Nervosa in the market, and although it was a little difficult in the beginning because they’re playing an extreme style dominated by men in a sexist country like Brazil, people are changing their view of women in metal, supporting them, respecting them and encouraging other women to play heavy music. Moreover, she said there’s still a long way to go regarding this matter because there are many conservative metalheads that do not fully accept girls playing heavy music yet, but that’s something metal as a subversive kind of music can certainly change, with fans of heavy music being in their majority very open-minded, intelligent and cultural people. In addition to that, Fernanda said she has always felt like playing only with girls, as she has always dreamed about that and has always been inspired by girls in metal. All her previous bands were all-female groups, and she knew that it was something new that would help her and her bands stand out in metal.

Another interesting topic discussed by our charming growler in some of her interviews is the usage of the Portuguese language in her lyrics, something you can easily find in other heavy music styles like Punk Rock and Hardcore, with amazing bands like the unparalleled Ratos de Porão applying the Portuguese language to their music almost to perfection, but that’s not very common in Thrash, Death and Black Metal. Although Nervosa have two songs in Brazilian Portuguese, those being Urânio em Nós (from Victim of Yourself) and Guerra Santa (from Agony), she said she has always listened to metal in English despite the fact she was born and lives in Brazil, obviously due to the fact most major metal bands sing in English, and that writing lyrics in English is much more natural and easier for her than in Portuguese. And besides, she believes that the English language helps her spread her opinion and ideas much better than Portuguese to a wider audience worldwide (despite the fact that nowadays it’s quite easy to translate anything in any language), making people think, debate, agree or disagree about the topics and subjects contained in her lyrics.

If there’s one thing you can definitely spend hours watching on YouTube, those are several interviews Fernanda gave in both English and Portuguese to the most diverse channels, shows and websites, and in all of them you’ll be able to notice how fun and honest she is not only as a musician but also as a regular human being. I’ve selected a few of those videos for you, including an interview she gave during Nervosa’s performance at Obscene Extreme festival in the Czech Republic in 2015; her chat with the online show From Hero To Zero in 2016 during Nervosa’s European tour with Destruction, where she talks about how difficult it is to make a living out of metal in Latin America, among other topics; and my favorite (and most distinct) of all, Fernanda, together with João Gordo (the idiosyncratic frontman for Ratos de Porão) and vegan chef Willyan Balbino, preparing a vegan twist to a Brazilian popular food snack named “coxinha”, a savory dough shaped into a drumstick around a creamy chicken salad filling then battered and fried, but in this specific case as Panelaço do João Gordo is a vegan show the coxinha was prepared with jackfruit instead of chicken. They obviously talk about heavy music and other stuff, but the star of the show in the end is the jackfruit coxinha (even for a “meatatarian” like myself, those coxinhas look beyond delicious).

And closing our small tribute to the talented Fernanda, when asked about what her recommendations are for bands that are starting their career in heavy music, she said the best option in the beginning is for the bands to promote their music in their homeland, focusing on what’s around them first before going for bigger markets like the USA and Europe. Nervosa have hundreds of thousands of Facebook and Instagram likes, but most of them come from their fanbase in Brazil and the rest of South America. She strongly believes it’s essential to have a huge support from where you come from, with the only issue in their own case being the fact that it’s really hard to make heavy music in Brazil due to the lack of money, opportunities and support from the media. However, as an obstinate metalhead that she is, she believes in the power and unity of metal fans in Latin America, who are always buying albums, merchandise and attending concerts with more intensity than in other parts of the world, being proud of the scene and proudly carrying the flag of Brazilian metal anywhere she goes with Nervosa. And that, my friends, is how you join professionalism and passion in the best possible way.

Fernanda Lira’s Official Facebook page
Fernanda Lira’s Official Facebook fan page
Fernanda Lira’s Official Instagram
Nervosa’s Official Website
Nervosa’s Official Facebook page
Nervosa’s Official Twitter
Nervosa’s Official YouTube channel
Nervosa’s Official Instagram

“All of my best stories and memories are because of metal. I was born and raised in metal. So, all my boyfriends, all my friends, and experiences are related to metal. That’s why I’m so intense on the stage, I feel like I’m living the dream.” – Fernanda Lira

Album Review – Aske / Broken Vow EP (2017)

A short, dark and acid sample of the new phase by an up-and-coming Brazilian Extreme Metal duo, pointing to a bright future ahead of them.

Forged by bassist Filipe Salvini and guitarist Lucas Duarte in 2009 in the city of São Carlos, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, and being deeply rooted in classic extreme music styles, Brazilian Black/Death Metal act Aske has been making a name for themselves since their inception due to the high quality and originality of their music, playing in several local festivals and being invited to record the opening song for a Brazilian music program named Arte Extrema (with the single “Alcoholic Audition”). Now in 2017 Aske kick off a new phase in their career with a very cohesive and obscure EP named Broken Vow, pointing to a bright future ahead for the duo.

After releasing their debut demo in 2009 named A Dawn to Ruin, followed by another demo titled Scars from the Whip in 2014 and their first full-length album Once…, releases in 2015, Aske return with a different sonority due to a considerable lineup change, but still extremely loyal to their foundations in Broken Vow. The artwork in their new EP was conceived by photographer and designer Ayla de Lilith and bassist (and now also vocalist) Filipe Salvini himself, who commented that “our band has been through a short period of adaptation in the past few months, and we thought a new release with a few original songs would be a nice way to keep ourselves honest in our production process and ideal for us to get ready for a bigger future”. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Eugenio Stefane at 1979 Estúdio, Broken Vow brings to us metallers three brand new songs by Aske, a cover song for an underground classic by American group Pentagram, and a remastered version to one of their previous songs, released in 2016, as a bonus track, and as unique as all tracks in the EP might sound they all make sense when put together as you’ll be able to see.

The groovy and piercing guitars by Lucas ignite the dark and melodic tune Meadows in Shade, a solid display of underground Death and Black Metal where Filipe showcases his vocal abilities as the band’s new growler, delivering anger and obscurity with his raspy gnarls, whereas the blast beats and cutting riffs in the kick-ass Death Metal onslaught Menschwerdung (German for “incarnation”) will penetrate deep inside your mind, sounding truly bestial and aggressive from start to finish. Furthermore, Filipe increases the savagery flowing from his growling while at the same time punching us in the head with his bass lines. Then in Broken Vows we’re treated to a more metallic and modern version to one of Pentagram’s cult songs(check the original version HERE), where both Filipe and Lucas are precise with their strings, and with Filipe also powerfully darkening the original vocal lines by the iconic Bobby Liebling.

Mardi Gras, the first single released in this new phase of the band, is another heavy-as-hell blast of Death Metal with some more Stygian elements from Black Metal, with highlights to the pounding riffs by Lucas. And, as aforementioned, as a bonus we have the audio of the official video for the song Übermensch (German for “superman”), originally released in their 2016 album Once… with previous lead singer Paulo Roberto still on vocals (as well as Luciano Galhardo on guitars and Renato Lourenço on drums). As a matter of fact, although their past formation feels more blackened than their current sonority, in my humble opinion both “versions” of Aske sound amazing.

What are you waiting for to know more about Aske? Go check what this Brazilian duo is up to on Facebook, listen to their music on YouTube, and buy your copy of Broken Vow (which can be enjoyed in full on Spotify) at the band’s own BandCamp page (and soon at the Sangue Frio Records’ webstore). After such strong EP, let’s wait and see what Filipe and Lucas will have for us next, and by that I mean we can surely expect a high-quality full-length album of extreme music hailing from Brazil, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Menschwerdung.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Sangue Frio Records

Track listing
1. Meadows in Shade 3:58
2. Menschwerdung 3:45
3. Broken Vows (Pentagram cover) 4:30
4. Mardi Gras 3:06
5. Übermensch (Video Version) 2:53

Band members
Filipe Salvini – vocals, bass
Lucas Duarte – guitars

Concert Review – Helloween (Espaço das Américas, São Paulo, Brazil, 10/29/2017)

What we once thought was unlikely to happen became reality and, my friends, it was one HELL of a night!

Have you ever imagined seeing Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen and Andi Deris together on the same stage? Yes, I know, we have seen Kiske and Hansen together with Unisonic before, we have seen Kiske singing HELLOWEEN classics beautifully, we have seen Hansen as a special guest on Helloween concerts, but the three pieces together feel so right that it is hard to think how it hasn’t happened before. The Pumpkins United World Tour is real now, it’s a huge celebration to the band’s legacy and I am not afraid to say that this is one of the most amazing tours of this year!

This tour was announced a year ago and the first date confirmed was in São Paulo (although the tour actually started in Mexico). I have got to say Brazilians love Helloween, tickets were sold out in a blink of an eye and the band announced a second date – again sold out. We were also informed that these two concerts were going to be recorded to a near future release in DVD, so we couldn’t be more excited. Unfortunately, guitarist Roland Grapow wasn’t invited to join the band on this historical moment (according to himself), which is really a shame.

Without an opening act, Helloween went straight to the point and got the party started at 7:30pm at the Espaço das Américas venue with the iconic Halloween, with Deris and Kiske singing together. This was enough to make 8,000 grown adults sing loud, smile, cry, jump, put their hands in the air, fall on their knees and thank for being there (I am not exaggerating, Brazilian fans are really this passionate and intense). After the song, both vocalists thanked all the fans and Deris remembered that 10 years ago they recorded a live album and DVD in São Paulo (Keeper of the Seven Keys – The Legacy World Tour 2005/2006) because Brazilian fans were the loudest in the world, so they wanted to do it again. The duo also introduced us to their two friends, Doc and Seth, the funny animated pumpkins on the screen who were responsible for “choosing” the night’s setlist, focusing on classics but also giving a space to songs released after the 2000s.

Photos by Leandro Anhelli – http://www.anhelli.com.br/

It was incredible to see Kiske and Deris singing side by side but the night wasn’t only about them. Kai Hansen, Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner were playing heavier and louder than ever, and in perfect harmony. Weikath was in his usual “low profile mode” on his corner of the stage, but as technical and impressive as always, while Hansen and Gerstner were moving all the time along the stage and interacting with the fans in the front row. Markus Grosskopf smiled all the time and alongside Dani Löble didn’t miss one beat at all. The whole team was clearly happy and connected.

When it was time for Hansen to take over the microphone on a medley of Starlight, Ride the Sky, Judas and Heavy Metal (Is the Law), the PA system died not once, but twice. On the first time, the musicians took some minutes to notice as the crowd kept singing in support as if nothing wrong was happening, until a sound technician came in to the stage and asked them to stop. They left and after some minutes Hansen apologized and said they were going to start over. When the sound failed for the second time, they left the stage for a little longer, 20 minutes or so, which made us think of a worst case scenario like a cancellation or something. Luckily, the team managed to fix everything and the band could hit the stage for Kai’s moment to shine.

Photos by Leandro Anhelli – http://www.anhelli.com.br/

Right after that, Deris and Kiske returned to the stage. Kiske joked that in all these years they have seen many things on the road, but never a PA that failed twice. Then, they gave the fans a moment to calm down a bit. Deris said it was a moment for a ballad, especially for the girls (he said the same thing before when they played If I Could Fly) and they made a beautiful duo singing Forever and One (Neverland); however, Kiske mentioned guys also love ballads, and all the fans shouted a loud “YEAAAH” in response.

There is no such thing as an ordinary concert for Helloween and they even know how to make a drum solo an emotional moment. Lights out on stage, Dani started with some beats and then images of a happy and precise Ingo Schwichtenberg – the original drummer, dead in 1995 at the age of 29 – were projected on the screen. Dani started to follow Ingo’s beats as if they both were on a very technical drums battle. It ended up with Ingo “playing alone” and many of us crying, clapping and shouting his name in a very loving tribute. It’s worth to mention that on the previous night the screen didn’t work for some time and unfortunately the fans couldn’t see such beautiful moment.

Power, How Many Tears, Eagle Fly Free, Keeper of the Seven Keys, Future World and I Want Out made a killer final sequence, with KOT7K being the highlight of the show undoubtedly. After 3 amazing hours the show was over, but we had energy left for more. Some great songs were left out of the setlist, including the recently released single Pumpkins United, but well, that’s okay. And despite the technical difficulties, I did not see one single person complaining; quite the contrary, everybody went back home with a big smile on their faces, and that feeling of being part of something really awesome and unique. To finish this review, if I can leave a piece of advice for you all, my metalhead friends, I’d say: please go see this concert if Helloween come to your town/country on this very special tour! You will remember this amazing night forever with a smile on your face and possibly tears of joy in your eyes.

Setlist
Intro: Let Me Entertain You (Robbie Williams song)
Halloween (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
Dr. Stein (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
I’m Alive (with Michael Kiske)
If I Could Fly (with Andi Deris)
Are You Metal? (with Andi Deris)
Rise and Fall (with Michael Kiske)
Waiting for the Thunder (with Andi Deris)
Perfect Gentleman (with Andi Deris)
Starlight / Ride the Sky / Judas / Heavy Metal (Is the Law) (with Kai Hansen)
Forever and One (Neverland) (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
A Tale That Wasn’t Right (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
I Can (with Andi Deris)
Drums Solo (Dani Löble & Ingo Schwichtenberg ‘battle’) – Ingo Tribute
Livin’ Ain’t No Crime / A Little Time (with Michael Kiske)
Why? (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
Sole Survivor (with Andi Deris)
Power (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
How Many Tears (with Andi Deris, Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen)
Eagle Fly Free (with Michael Kiske)
Keeper of the Seven Keys (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
Future World (with Michael Kiske)
I Want Out (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)

Band members
Andi Deris – vocals
Michael Kiske – vocals
Kai Hansen – vocals, guitars
Michael Weikath – guitars
Sascha Gerstner – guitars
Markus Grosskopf – bass
Dani Löble – drums

Album Review – Torture Squad / Far Beyond Existence (2017)

Don’t cross the path of one of the most respectful bands from the Brazilian Thrash and Death Metal scene, or they will mercilessly crush you with the pulverizing music from their sensational new album.

If there’s a band that beautifully epitomizes what old school underground Thrash and Death Metal are all about, that band has to be the ruthless Brazilian four-piece outfit Torture Squad who, since their inception in the distant year of 1990 in the city of São Paulo, a metropolis with almost 20 million people located in the southeast region of Brazil, has been fighting for heavy music and remained loyal to their foundations, even with all the adversities in a country where metal is far from being a popular genre. Carrying a powerful name inspired by the song “Death Squad”, by American thrash metallers Sacred Reich, and having already released seven studio albums, two live albums and three EP’s, it’s time for Torture Squad to attack humanity once again with another sensational blast of traditional extreme music, titled Far Beyond Existence, the eight full-length release in their solid and exciting career.

Featuring a somber and ominous artwork by Brazilian artist Rafael Tavarez (who has already provided his brilliant art to several other bands all over the world such as Dark Ministry, Vulture and Moonkult), Far Beyond Existence is the first full-length opus by Torture Squad to feature the she-wolf Mayara “Undead” Puertas as their lead singer, as well as Rene Simionato on guitars. As a matter of fact, although the talented Mayara and Rene already released last year an EP with Torture Squad, the excellent Return of Evil, it’s now with the band’s new full-bodied installment that they have all the room needed to showcase their refined abilities as musicians and their utmost passion for all things extreme. And they more than succeed in their mission as you’ll see when you start listening to this incendiary album of Brazilian Extreme Metal.

In the fantastic opening track Don’t Cross My Path, Rene presents his welcome card in the form of cutting, flammable riffs, while the band’s wardogs Amílcar on drums and Castor on bass are simply thunderous with their respective instruments. And what to say about Mayara? She’s a true unstoppable she-demon, kicking some serious ass with both her deeper guttural and her more strident screams. As the name of the song says, don’t dare to cross her path under any circumstances, unless that’s what you really want deep down inside, right? Continuing with their sonic destruction, sirens warn the listener a tempest of old school Thrash and Death Metal is about to come in No Fate, another boisterous creation by this Brazilian quartet that exhales heaviness and aggression, with Amílcar giving a lesson in drumming by being rhythmic, violent and groovy at the same time. And connecting instantly with where the previous song ended, Blood Sacrifice presents a serene and somewhat esoteric intro, suddenly exploding into belligerent Thrash Metal. Amílcar once again demolishes his drums in a fantastic way, while Mayara keeps barking, gnarling and screaming like a beast, resulting in one of my favorite songs of the album by far; followed by Steady Hands, a mid-tempo tune perfect for some intense headbanging intercalated with some faster and more furious parts, with Rene once again blasting a metallic feast of heavy and raw riffs, not to mention the great job done by Castor with his demonic bass punches enhancing the song’s heaviness to the limit.

The also superb Hate, featuring British vocalist Dave Ingram (Benediction, Bolt Thrower, Just Before Dawn) on guest vocals, is more ferocious than most of the previous songs, where the pounding drums by Amílcar are in perfect sync with Castor’s bass lines and Mayara’s grunts, and with the song’s ending being a thing of beauty tailored for smashing your skull into the circle pit. In Hero for the Ages, slashing riffs and accelerated beats generate a warlike atmosphere perfect for Mayara to attack us with her devilish guttural vocals. Furthermore, it’s truly impressive how all songs sound extremely imposing and heavy, and of course this one couldn’t be an exception to that, with Castor hitting us hard in the last part of the song with his bass guitar. The title-track Far Beyond Existence is a lesson in traditional Thrash Metal, sounding simply excellent for the band’s live concerts, showcasing a neck-breaking, galloping pace that will certainly stimulate the spawn of some intense mosh pits, all boosted by the amazing guitar solo by Rene amidst all the rumbling sounds emanating from bass and drums. And leaning towards a more obscure form of Death Metal, mainly due to the deep and enraged gnarls by Mayara and the old school riffs by Rene, Cursed by Disease keeps the album’s momentum going, with the special narration by Brazilian drummer Edu Lane (Nervochaos) and its old school lyrics (“A rotting corpse remains preserved / Receptacle of the spirit of a king / Sarcophagus was sealed with all his treasure / And on the walls the paintings bore a curse / Death will attack / With its trident / for those who disturb / The pharaoh”) spicing up the final result.

You Must Proclaim, featuring Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Luiz Louzada (Chemical Disaster, Predatory, Vulcano) as a guest vocalist (making a demonic duo with Mayara on vocals), begins with Castor punching his bass mercilessly, emanating a violent and metallic sound that grows in intensity together with all other instruments until it becomes a thrilling Thrash Metal onrush; whereas Just Got Paid,  their pulverizing version for a ZZ Top classic (which original version can be enjoyed HERE), sounds as groovy and hellish as it can be, led by the harsh vocals by guest vocalist Alex Camargo (Krisiun) and the exciting riffage by Rene. Moreover, Castor’s bass sounds once again insanely deafening, which obviously translates into sheer awesomeness. Before all is said and done, Castor and his potent bass kick off the instrumental extravaganza titled Torture in Progress, featuring Brazilian keyboardist Marcelo Schevano, with those bass wallops being the main ingredient during the song’s first part, always accompanied by Amílcar’s intricate beats. In addition, the Deep Purple-inspired keys by Marcelo bring a fresh taste to the overall musicality, culminating in almost 10 minutes of top-notch Brazilian metal. Then closing the album we have Unknown Abyss, a cinematic intro (or outro, depending on how you listen to it, as I’m not really sure why it was added as the last track of the digital version of the album) where Mayara “presents” herself to the fans of the band like a demonic entity rising from the underworld. Needless to say, it will sound fantastic as the intro to their live performances.

In a nutshell, when Mayara had the arduous mission a couple of years ago to replace Torture Squad’s longtime iconic vocalist Vitor Rodrigues, she already proved the world she was the right choice for the band, but in Far Beyond Existence her performance reached such a stunning level she has emphatically carved her name as the band’s undisputed voice (hopefully) for many years to come. If you want to know more about Torture Squad, simply go to their Facebook page for news and tour dates (if you’re in Brazil, don’t miss their Far Beyond Existence Tour 2017, which is just about to start on August 17), and to Spotify to listen to Far Beyond Existence in its entirety. You can also buy the album through the Secret Service Records’ webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon, and show all your support to high-end underground metal from Brazil, more specifically to one of the most respectful, hard-working and thrilling bands in the history of Brazilian heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Don’t Cross My Path, Blood Sacrifice, Hate and Far Beyond Existence.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Secret Service Records

Track listing
1. Don’t Cross My Path 5:48
2. No Fate 6:35
3. Blood Sacrifice 7:38
4. Steady Hands 5:23
5. Hate (feat. Dave Ingram) 4:11
6. Hero for the Ages 5:42
7. Far Beyond Existence 6:44
8. Cursed by Disease (feat. Edu Lane) 5:02
9. You Must Proclaim (feat. Luiz Louzada) 5:06
10. Just Got Paid (ZZ Top cover) (feat. Alex Camargo) 4:11
11. Torture in Progress (Instrumental) (feat. Marcelo Schevano) 9:37
12. Unknown Abyss (Intro) 3:01

Band members
Mayara “Undead” Puertas – vocals
Rene Simionato – guitars
Castor – bass, backing vocals
Amílcar Christófaro – drums

Guest musicians
Dave Ingram – additional vocals on “Hate”
Edu Lane – narration on “Cursed by Desease”
Luiz Louzada – additional vocals on “You Must Proclaim”
Alex Camargo – vocals on “Just got Paid”
Marcelo Schevano – Hammond organ on “Torture in Progress”

Metal Chick of the Month – Mayara “Undead” Puertas

Sanity… What about Insanity…

Can you hear those demonic gnarls coming from Brazil, sounding like the putrid screams of an undead woman rising from her grave? That’s the powerful and mesmerizing guttural voice by our metallic girl this month, the talented Brazilian growler Mayara “Undead” Puertas, born Mayara Puertas and also known as May “Undead” Puertas or even May Undead, frontwoman of the iconic old school Brazilian Thrash/Death Metal band Torture Squad, and a woman that loves heavy music from the bottom of her blackened heart above all things. If this is the first time you’re getting to know the work by Mayara, you better be ready as the “Undead” is more than ready to kick your ass with her devilish growls and fiery onstage attitude (and I’m sure you’ll get addicted to the music by Torture Squad after that).

Born on March 16, 1993 in a region known as ABC Paulista, an industrial region located in the Greater São Paulo, Brazil, Mayara Puertas has always been connected to some sort of musical art since she was little, singing popular songs and playing the piano, guitar and electric guitar, always encouraged by her family and by studying old music books owned by her father, covering songs from Creedence Clearwater Revival, Secos e Molhados (an innovative Brazilian band formed in the beginning of the 70’s) and Kansas, for example. She never took any formal lessons to learn how to sing and to play those instruments, as she preferred learning everything by herself as a good self-taught musician that she is, adding her passion for music and her personal touch to shape her own style.

When she was around 12 or 13 years old, she already nurtured a strong interest for rock music, until a good friend of hers introduced her to Heavy Metal, bringing all his albums to her home where she could make copies of all of them. She instantly fell in love for bands like Iron Maiden, Manowar, Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, Hammerfall and Brazilian Celtic Metal band Tuatha de Danann, which as you can see have little to do with her singing style. Her curiosity and connection to heavy music only grew stronger and stronger in the coming years when she began searching for different bands and genres, including more brutal types of metal, finally finding in Thrash and Death Metal her true passion. Mayara then started to dedicate herself to learn more aggressive vocal techniques inspired by Extreme Metal titans such as Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Hypocrisy and Overkill, with some of her biggest influences being David Vincent (Morbid Angel), George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (Cannibal Corpse), Rachel Heyzer (Infinited Hate, Occult, Sinister), Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain), Sabina Classen (Holy Moses) and Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth (Overkill), a distinct selection of unique voices.

It was in 2013 when Mayara joined her first official band, Brazilian Death Metal act Necromesis, not only as a singer but by also recording some piano and acoustic guitars. As the screaming frontwoman of Necromesis, the “Undead” recorded the EP Echoes of a Memory in 2014 (which you can listen to in its entirety HERE) and the full-length album The Poet’s Paradox in 2015. You can enjoy Mayara’s beastly growling with Necromesis penetrating your ears in crushing songs such as Indifferent Echoes of Sensitivity and Desocial Inclusion, as well as this live version of the song Unlives as Undeads at a special event called I Domingo Metal BR in 2014 in São Paulo, Brazil. Her time with Necromesis also allowed her to tour several Brazilian cities, including a tour with American bands Master and Vital Remains, and being named one of the greatest Extreme Metal singers of the year of 2014.

In October 2015, after talking with Fernanda Lira (lead singer and bassist of the badass Brazilian Thrash Metal power trio Nervosa), Mayara was told she had been referred to be the vocalist of an important Brazilian Death Metal band, but she didn’t know exactly which one then. After a few weeks, she was contacted by Amílcar Christófaro, longtime drummer of Torture Squad, to officially join the band. That was a big surprise for Mayara, as she had always admired the work by those guys, following their career and attending their live concerts, and she knew it was going to be a great honor and an even greater responsibility to replace the iconic Vitor Rodrigues on vocals, who left the band in April 2012 to pursue new musical experiences. The other band members provided her all the necessary support for her to thrive as their new singer, making her confident enough to accept the challenge and add her touch of aggressiveness, electricity and passion to their always high-octane music, showing how professional and dedicated Torture Squad are, and how loyal they’ve always been to heavy music. Of course it wasn’t easy for her to adapt to her new life at first, as she had to rehearse with the band almost everyday, she had to quit her job and move to a new city, but all that extra effort was worth it thanks to the amazing receptivity she always gets from the diehard fans of the band, enjoying her live performances of old school Torture Squad songs as well as their new tunes already with her on vocals.

Mayara recorded her first official release with torture Squad in 2016, the EP titled Return of Evil, comprised of four unrelenting, original tracks (Return of Evil, Swallow Your Reality, Dreadful Lies and Iron Squad). If you want to know more about how the first Torture Squad album with Mayara on vocals came to life, I highly recommend you watch the online documentary named Behind the Evil, filmed in December 2015 during the recordings of Return of Evil at Na Cena Studios. Another amazing video online showcasing all the vocal potency by Mayara with the band, singing some of the band’s classics like Pull The Trigger and Mad Illusions, as well as an interview piece, can be seen HERE. After watching such powerful performance by Mayara, you’ll understand why her nickname is “Undead”, given to her by Amilcar during their first rehearsals due to the fact her growls sounded like the screams of an undead woman rising from her grave. She even said that became her “alter ego”, which she lets dominate her body and soul when she’s on stage performing.

In regards to touring with Torture Squad, a band that’s always doing extensive tours all over Brazil and also in Europe, Mayara said that when you’re on the road you have to get used to the fact that your house will be a van. There’s very little time to sleep, eat and take care of yourself, which means the band as a whole has to learn how to live in a harmonious way to make things work during the tours. She also said that her biggest concern is with her voice as there are many shows to do each tour, and she takes care of it by drinking lots of water and having fun with moderation. Also, our screaming metaller said that, despite the lack of time, she enjoys knowing a little more about the places where she plays with the band, most of which she would never have been able to visit if she wasn’t with torture Squad. Mayara is also the youngest member of the band; for instance, she wasn’t even born when the band started, but that doesn’t mean the difference in age is a barrier to her relationship with the other members of the band. She said their passion for metal unites them, helping them become a big metallic family, as well as the fact that she’s using her time with them to learn as much as possible from their expertise in the world of heavy music.

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If you prefer some action instead of all these never-ending words, you can find online a lot of high-quality footage of Mayara growling like a rabid beast as the frontwoman of Torture Squad, as you can see in the songs Inner Strength, and Black Sabbath’s classic Symptom of the Universe (with changed instruments); this series of videos recorded at the traditional Clash Club in São Paulo, Brazil, on February 27, 2016, where the band played, among others, the songs Living for the Kill/ Chaos Corporation, The Unholy Spell, and Horror and Torture/Pandemonium; or this amazingly done footage of Torture Squad kicking ass at De Verlichte Geest, in Roeselare, Belgium. You can also enjoy some online interviews with Mayara (if, of course, you understand Portuguese), as for example when they played at Tocandira Ritual Fest II in Macapá, a province located in the North of Brazil, in 2016; and her chat with the YouTube channel For headS for their Metal Live Drops programme, where she talks a little about how she became the lead singer for Torture Squad.

There’s already a brand new song online with Mayara on vocals, which is actually Torture Squad’s cover version of Motörhead’s high-octane classic Overkill that will be feature on a Brazilian tribute named “Going To Brazil… The Brazilian Tribute To Motörhead”, featuring several renowned Brazilian bands such as Nervochaos, Voodoopriest, Genocídio, Ratos de Porão, Claustrofobia and Hatefulmurder, among others, to be released later this year by British label Secret Service Records. And the wait for more Torture Squad with Mayara on vocals won’t be long, as the band has already announced they’ll release in July this year their eight studio album, titled Far Beyond Existence, containing ten ruthless songs with the “Undead” gnarling manically as their frontwoman. As the band has been updating their official Facebook page with videos and other details about the recordings of the new album, I highly recommend you like and follow them HERE to avoid missing anything.

As any modern musician, Mayara already lent her potent voice to some interesting bands and projects away from the Torture Squad world. For instance, she recorded additional vocals for the 2015 album Afterlife in Darkness, by Brazilian Death Metal band Depressed, and guest vocals for the song Time Enough at Last from the 2017 album Red Eyes, by Brazilian Thrash/Death Metal band Hatefulmurder. In addition to that, Mayara also recorded in 2015 a cover version of Bathory’s Man of Iron with Bathory Brazilian Tribute, and began working with bassist Patricia Schlithler (Hellarise, Harppia) in an Extreme Metal project named Gorgona (which I couldn’t find any additional details about online).

Despite the fact that our society is still extremely sexist, when asked about the increasing influence of women in heavy music Mayara said that although she has already experienced a few awkward situations in her life she still believes Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll are the two types of music that foster creativity and freedom of speech, therefore providing more room for women to grow and to be more and more respected by everyone. She mentioned she always receives a lot of positive feedback from both men and women, even inspiring fathers to take their daughters to Torture Squad concerts to show them they can be whatever they want in life, which is obviously a great thing not only for Mayara but for heavy music in general.

She was also asked about the feeling of being on stage with the band, singing in front of hundreds or thousands of crazy fans everywhere they go, and if there’s a big difference between fans in Brazil and in Europe. Mayara said the main difference is that, in Europe, you can see several distinct tribes mixed in the crowd, such as diehard fans of Punk Rock and Death Metal together, which in the end was excellent for her as she could connect to people with complete different tastes and opinions than hers, and that she wished that could also be a reality in Brazil, where the heavy music tribes are a lot more distant from each other. However, in terms of receptivity and electricity, she said both Brazilian and European headbangers are absolutely amazing and have a very good time during their shows.

Mayara is not only an extremely talented growler, but she’s also an entrepreneur, being the owner of an online store named Bloodline, specialized in custom clothing and accessories. She said she opened the store during a very difficult time of her life, when she was unemployed and needed to find an alternative source of income. If you want to know more about Bloodline, check their official website or Facebook page and, who knows, you might find something fancy that suits your style. In addition, she also works as a costume consultant for a company called Loud Factory, an audio and video producer focused on Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll. And that’s all about the talented Mayara, a woman that never gets tired of her “eat, sleep, scream like a beast, repeat” routine.

Mayara “Undead” Puertas’ Official Facebook page
Mayara “Undead” Puertas’ Official YouTube channel
Mayara “Undead” Puertas’ Official Instagram
Torture Squad’s Official Facebook page
Torture Squad’s Official YouTube channel
Torture Squad’s Official Twitter

Album Review – Nervosa / Agony (2016)

Brazil’s meanest power trio returns with another marvelous blast of their kick-ass high-octane Thrash Metal.

Rating3

nervosa-agony-2016Do you know what the main difference is between Brazilian Thrash Metal power trio Nervosa and iconic bands such as Slayer, Testament, Exodus and Death Angel? Instead of a bunch of big bad guys with fully grown beards and ugly faces, Nervosa are three charming and beautiful girls, but don’t think that because of that minor detail their music is less demolishing, vicious or infernal. Quite the contrary, Brazil’s meanest power trio plays a fantastic high-octane Thrash Metal that lives up to the legacy of the genre, putting the pedal to the metal in each one of their electrifying compositions and taking no prisoners on their path to stardom. Furthermore, they might be relatively new to the business, but what those three thrash metallers offer us in their brand new album, entitled Agony, has the energy and feel of an old school metal classic.

Formed in February 2010 in the metropolis of São Paulo, Brazil by guitarist Prika Amaral, who was joined in July 2011 by vocalist and bassist Fernanda Lira, Nervosa (which by the way is the female word for “nervous” in Brazilian Portuguese) have already built a respectable career in the underground of heavy music, having released their debut demo/EP named Time of Death in 2012 and their first full-length album, Victim of Yourself, in 2014, leading to their participation on some of the major European summer festivals such as Summerbreeze, Brutal Assault and Metal Days, as well as on the unique 70000 Tons Of Metal in the United States, sharing the stage with important names like Exodus, Raven and Samael through the years. All that enhanced experience, together with their always-improving technique, culminated in the release of Agony, an album that will mercilessly assault you like a rabid beast, starting by the deadly cover art designed by Godmachine, and when this gripping opus is over I dare you to not listen to it again and again.

The album starts at full speed in Arrogance, a brutal composition perfectly executed by those three talented women with drummer Pitchu Ferraz (who unfortunately has left the band recently) delivering sheer Thrash Metal beats before Fernanda begins firing her Hantu Kopek-like gnarls. And there’s no time to breathe as the second tune of the album, Theory of Conspiracy, is as visceral and fast-paced as its predecessor, with highlights to the brilliant job done once again by Fernanda with her enraged screams (especially when she barks the famous saying “what goes around comes around”). Furthermore, this song has what it takes to become a Thrash Metal classic, in special the lancinating riffs by Prika. And in Deception, a rhythmic composition with elements from Death Metal added to drums and riffs, sounding like contemporary Cannibal Corpse due to its pace and intricacy, the vocals by Fernanda get to a more Black Metal-ish level, which only makes things even better in the end.

The lyrics might sound cheesy in Intolerance Means War, but they’re spot-on with their message against our society’s cruel reality (“Different doesn’t means it’s not the way / Remove sex creed race, we are all the same / Confront ignorance with knowledge and awareness / Show respect / Dialogue is freedom / Intolerance is war”), and when Fernanda growls the word “war” it truly feels like her personal tribute to Mr. Tom Araya screaming the same word in Slayer’s all-time classic War Ensemble. Needless to say, this Thrash Metal anthem is ideal for some fun circle pits and wicked headbanging. Guerra Santa (or “Holy War” in English) is the only song in Agony entirely sung in Brazilian Portuguese, which ends up adding an extra touch of rawness to the overall result. Pitchu is a female demon on drums, as violent and demented as possible, blending the sheer heaviness of Death Metal with the groove from Thrash Metal in her beats, not to mention the cutting guitar sounds blasted by Prika throughout this phenomenal song.

nervosaFailed System reminds me of old school Exodus with hints of Black Metal, where Fernanda not only growls like a beast, but her bass guitar also emanates pure hatred; whereas Hostages, a song about how disturbing and horrible it is to be at a decaying public hospital in Brazil (and you should definitely check their official gory video for the song at the end of this review), is another straightforward chant bursting madness and anger where Prika continues to pierce our souls with her powerful riffs. More melodic and groovy, Surrounded by Serpents brings forward lyrics about the venomous effects of betrayal (“Poisonous snake / Disguised as friends / Enemies attack / Snakes stab you in the back / A beast wounds your body / A snake wounds your mind / Pretend disguise destroy / In a blink of an eye”), with Fernanda reaching some deep growls that effectively increase the song’s obscurity.

The rumbling bass by Fernanda kicks off another metallic and vile composition, titled Cyberwar, presenting an electrified Exodus-inspired Thrash Metal vibe tailored for slamming into the pit with the girls, with the awesome solo by Prika making this beautiful thrashy anthem a thousand times more adrenalized. The excellent Hypocrisy begins in a dark and atmospheric way before getting as heavy as hell, feeling as if Pitchu wanted to destroy her drums due to the strength she puts into her beats. Moreover, those unstoppable and remorseless girls yet again add elements of Death Metal to the song’s sonority, a recurrent technique they know how to use almost to perfection. And what better song to end such fulminating album than one called Devastation? That’s what Fernanda, Prika and Pitchu beautifully do, decimating every living creature that has the guts to face them in this more-modern-than-usual tune thanks to its hints of Groove Metal.

Instead of following those girls that only care about showing their asses on social media or that wear more makeup than an entire Black Metal band and live a complete superficial life, try following Nervosa through their Facebook page, Instagram, YouTube channel and SoundCloud. I’m sure you’ll have a much better and more productive time by doing that. And in case you want to purchase this high-end Thrash Metal gem, simply go to their official webstore or to the Napalm Records’ webstore and grab your copy of Agony’s Limited Edition Digipack, which includes a bonus track named Wayfarer, a 6-minute chant mixing Blues and Jazz to the band’s ruthless music by showcasing clean vocals and harsh screams together in a very creative and interesting form. After listening to Agony, the first thing that will come to your mind when you hear the world “Nervosa” is undoubtedly first-class Thrash Metal, and if you disagree with me I guess there are three mean and violent girls that will be more than happy to pay you a visit.

Best moments of the album: Theory of Conspiracy, Intolerance Means War, Guerra Santa and Cyberwar.

Worst moments of the album: None, of course.

Released in 2016 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Arrogance 3:08
2. Theory of Conspiracy 4:17
3. Deception 3:54
4. Intolerance Means War 3:29
5. Guerra Santa 2:52
6. Failed System 3:43
7. Hostages 3:25
8. Surrounded by Serpents 4:32
9. Cyberwar 3:02
10. Hypocrisy 4:28
11. Devastation 3:32

Limited Edition Digipak bonus track
12. Wayfarer 6:17

Band members
Fernanda Lira – lead vocals, bass
Prika Amaral – guitar, backing vocals
Pitchu Ferraz – drums