The Nerve Agents - The Butterfly Collection (Cover Artwork)

The Nerve Agents

The Butterfly Collection (2001)


Finally, after a number of solid but unstellar releases The Nerve Agents have fulfilled their promise of re-merging punk rock and hardcore into the force to be reckoned with that it once was. Heretofore, the only punk thing about this band was the eyeliner they wore at some shows and the covers they performed (the cover of 45 Grave's "Evil" on Days Of the White Owl is an almost perfect foreshadowing of the sound on The Butterfly Collection); however, the total Youth-Of-Today-retro-kick they've been on has given way to an interesting, engaging odyssey into the realm of melodic, experimental horror punk.

Experimental probably isn't a word that one would expect to be used in relation to the Nerve Agents, but the guitar work on The Butterfly Collection is genuinely interesting, and I find myself putting on headphones while I listen to this, trying my best to tune out the other instruments. With the standard 4/4 rhythms and power chords of hardcore largely being done away with, the guitarist is left with tons of room to indulge his creative urges, and since the bass and drums still pound along at a frantic standard pace, excessive noodling doesn't choke the music at all.

The one thing that does threaten to strangle this music is Eric's trademark growl, but on tracks like "What Then?" he shows a willingness to explore other vocal territory, and hopefully on future releases he'll continue to expand his repetoire. Though he is arguably the best hardcore singer around in the year 2001, his band is moving further and further away from hardcore, and if he doesn't keep up with the progression both his and the band's artistic growth will be greatly hindered.

In the meantime, though, The Butterfly Collection is one of the first hardcore records to get me really excited in some time. This will definitely be making album of the year lists all over the zine circuit, so do yourself a favour and go find out what everyone's talking about.

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