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Nerve [reviews]
Blood & Gold |Play It Again Sam Records, 1995|

1. Blood, 2. Rain, 3. My Mind, 4. Dirt, 5. Sane Men, 6. Gaia, 7. The Carpet Man, 8. Scream In Silence, 9. Exposure, 10. Discouragement, 11. Nihil, 12. Gold

To be sincere with you, I found Blood & Gold too heavy when I first heard a few years ago. This album grew on me a lot after some time passed by, and I’m definitely convinced of its value, clarity, vibrant sound and timelessness. Blood & Gold spreads a similar charm contingent to most of the music created by Machines of Loving Grace and Course of Empire. It’s the same kind of temptation, depth, perfection of arrangements, richness of song construction and integrity to all of its elements.

Nerve was one of those lesser known Belgian bands back then in the 90’s, which released only two full albums put out by Play It Again Sam Records. It can be questionable of why they didn’t become as big as Ministry on the industrial metal scene since PIAS had very good distribution then, and albums of their bands were available the world over (thanks to SPV in Poland, however I can’t remember if Nerve albums were available in their catalog). That band still stands as an undiscovered jewel, or rather the jewel discovered by true heavy music fans only; opened to deepen their knowledge, instead of following bands which got more far reaching recognition in the USA like Ministry or Nine Inch Nails.

What’s most interesting is that Nerve’s music was made by only two people: Phil Mills and Tom Holkenborg. Tom set up his new project after quitting Nerve, which you may have heard about before - Junkie XL, and which became far more successfully known for its electronic sounds.

The album begins with a heavy, Godflesh-like song called "Blood" interlaced with brighter sound spots here and there. Then there’s one cult song by the band - "Rain"! It gives me such a mental image while listening to the song: imagine a Viking-like guy (one of those heavy armored, full of thorns, black riders from the movie Pathfinder) riding on a running black horse through open fields to crush all enemies with their weight, speed and power. "Rain" crushes the same way.

The next song is "My Mind" with the final guitar+bass+drums unison reminiscent of music by Skrew. This track includes catchy elements and rock refrains. Then "Dirt" is a foretaste of the sound brought by Junkie XL a few years later with techno-like beats similar to Cubanate, Front 242 and C-Tec, but is surrounded by a cloud of beautiful, vibrating guitar riffs and aggressive vocals.

"Sane Men" is a simple song, that would be great to be played live when it comes to energy flow and headbanging. It’s dynamic rock mixed with an electronic, almost techno background, accented in a few spots but not disturbing the rest of it. "Gaia" follows "Sane Man", and is one of the most recognizable songs by Nerve, with a chorus easy to remember that almost forces you to sing it out loud. That song reminds me of works by Machines of Loving Grace from their album "Gift" the most.

"The Carpet Man" is a powerful industrial metal song, which falls like an avalanche. A striking voltage of song content, from guitars and bass though vocals, then to an industrial background that makes a deep impact. It should be interesting to Revolting Cocks or Front 242 fans that Luc Van Acker was a guest musician on the recording of that song.

"Scream In Silence" will tear apart the toughest person. It will sink its teeth into your psyche then blow it out from the inside. Positively. It’s a stunning suite, almost without vocals (except of the title refrain "I can scream in silence"). In its appearance just right after dehumanized, "The Carpet Man" makes the contrast larger, and even people with no special sense of hearing should notice it immediately. Similar power was presented in "Discouragement", with charging guitar riffs and an atmosphere of late Ministry (like in "Kaif") with similar sounding sampled dialogs. This song however turns to some wimpy singing what destroys the final effect to me. It’s not a well worked out composition for sure. From wimpy singing, the song "Exposure" begins as well, but it evolves into heavy guitars, dynamic drums and a wall of industrial rock tunes we love so much!

Other than that "Nihil" is an industrial song with weird sounds, however it's not limited to electronic content only. The latter part of the song gets warmed up with furious vocals and a mixture of beats, though the song doesn't have any significant depth, it depends on how you want to interpret it. "Gold" makes your heartbeat cool down and finishes the album.

The Blood & Gold album was recorded in the fashion of mid-90’s metal and industrial top trends, but it didn’t get as much of response as deserved. There are guitars co-existing with electronics like yin and yang in Nerve’s music. Additionally Phil Mills utilizes amazing sounds when he sings in both ‘angry’ and powerful ways, but at the same time he doesn’t seem comfortable with light choirs. The power of Blood & Gold kills the bad taste of terrible new electro-metal productions from Germany and Italy as well as American remixes. I’m giving this album a very high and deserved rating.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, April 23rd, 2010. Proofreading: Scott M. Owens. Must not be used for promotional or commercial purposes. See a Legal Note for the copyrights below)

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