Album Review
Nerve Agents
Label: Hellcat Records
Reviewed by Stephen Rafael
Everyone knows the difference between a really good horror movie and a really bad one. A bad horror movie's only intent is to gross-out the audience. Bad horror movies hit the viewer with gratuitous, non-stop gore and carnage during the very first frame, and they never let up from there. Also, in bad horror movies, all of the celluloid screen violence is purely physical and totally visual. Nothing, unfortunately, is left to the imagination...

Like the directors of a really good horror movie, the Nerve Agents slowly allow the suspense to build in The Butterfly Collection before plunging the listener into terror and madness. The Butterfly Collection takes flight rather innocently. The record's first three songs -- "The Poisoning," "Crisis," and "War Against!" -- are straight-up, self-explanatory hardcore anthems. Not only is there nothing unusual, unsettling, or particularly sinister about these three songs, but they are also exactly what the listener expects to hear.

However, once the Nerve Agents feel that they have lulled their audience into a false sense of security, the members of the eccentric San Francisco hardcore band really begin to let the cracks show. The Butterfly Collection's fourth track -- the bizarrely-titled "The Vice Of Mrs. Grossly" -- opens with a mysteriously ominous scale-progression and then explodes into the tightly-wound entreat of "Resist, Resist!" And "Mrs. Grossly" is not the only outsider to intrude on The Butterfly Collection, either.

Following "Mrs. Grossly's" startling appearance, the tragic stories of "Princess Jasmine Of Tinseltown," "The Legend Of H. Gane Ciro," and the record's signature character, "Madam Butterfly" quickly unfold. In addition, the Nerve Agents paint other dark tracks such as "But I Might Die Tonight," "So, Very Avoidable," "Oh, Ghost Of Mine" in an equally black shade.

The Butterfly Collection closes with the last thing a hardcore listener would expect -- a hauntingly beautiful piano and cello instrumental called "The Cross." Somewhere, an approving smile escapes from Alfred Hitchcock's silhouetted profile...

Buy It!

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