Perpetual Chaos, the fourth album by Brazilian thrash outfit Nervosa, was born in the aftermath of a lineup change that reduced the outfit to lone founding guitarist Prika Amaral early last year. Call it a blessing in disguise: this changeover prompted Amaral to enlist three veteran cohorts from around the world to record Nervosa’s strongest album yet, a vicious and catchy throwback to the genre’s heyday that addresses the social climate of today.
This lineup is composed of all women—Nervosa has labeled themselves “all-female thrash” for years, and not without controversy. There’s convincing discourse that metal acts ought to not foreground their genders; “female-fronted” is a sexist selling point that turns gender into a novelty. But Brazil’s culture maintains a hefty dose of chauvinism, and though the country has produced influential metal bands—Sepultura, for instance, as well as obscure acts like Vulcano and Sarcófago—none have kept women in their lineups. In that context, Nervosa are upending the musical tradition they’re a part of.
Amaral isn’t shy to talk about Nervosa’s struggles with sexist prejudice in interviews, and that conflict has only sharpened her songwriting: Perpetual Chaos, delivers palm-mute chugging, dexterous fretwork, and infuriated-but-intelligible vocals on every song. “Pursued by Judgment” calls out “bigots and hypocrites,” while other tracks address political corruption and the widening class divide. These are classic topics in thrash, and Perpetual Chaos feels like an induction into the genre’s elite circle—vocalists Marcel Schirmer and Eric Knudsen, of classic bands Destruction and Flotsam and Jetsam, guest on the album, including on standout track “Rebel Soul.” It’s a hard-fought victory, but one commensurate with the uphill battle that Nervosa has faced and overcome.