Botch - American Nervoso [reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


American Nervoso [reissue] (2007)

Hydra Head

One album prior to Botch's landmark effort, We Are the Romans, came American Nervoso, the metal(lichard)core act's first full-length. While proving to be not quite as influential or accomplished as Romans, Nervoso was a frothing, still technical and confrontational album that was no less heavy and even a bit more dissonant, fitting in perfectly with their mid-to-late`90s brethren of the time (Converge, Coalesce). The latest offering in Hydra Head's recent flurry of activity regarding the pioneering quartet is a remixed and remastered reissue of that 1998 album along with a couple bonuses thrown on for good measure.

Standard album numbers like "Dali's Praying Mantis" proved the band weren't humorless brutes, as it was a nearly all-instrumental attack that seemed to pre-date the overuse of "horror chords" that popped up later across the rosters of Trustkill and Solid State Records, with the song having one solitary lyric: a repetitive yell of "yeah!" Brutal cuts like the solid "Dead for a Minute" and "Oma" channeled the metallic aggression of the band's own influences (Unbroken, Deadguy), but even the latter of those closes with Tim Latona's solemn piano coda.

The new, more aural setting applied to Nervoso makes songs much more clearer and dynamic as well. "Thank God for Worker Bees" starts with dusty drums that sound programmed and distorted vocals until the band's groove-oriented bombast and shapeshifting, heavy angularity comes into play, conveying an astute sense of soft/loud / restrained/aggressive.

With only nine songs on the original release, a "new" song, "Stupid Me" (taken from the Nervoso sessions one would assume), plus an extended version of "Spitting Black" and demo versions of three other tracks fills out Nervoso quite well -- in fact, it pushes it to just over fifty minutes' running time. There's nothing particularly mesmerizing about the additional offerings unless one claimed a sickening love for Nervoso and wished to dissect every differentiating nuance, but their presence is certainly no detriment to the reissue. "Stupid Me" is an impressive number though, as it's much more intense than the majority of the album that precedes it and makes crafty use of interchanging, frenetic riffs.

American Nervoso may not be regarded as Botch's pinnacle but it's certainly where they thrust into the door of the metal/hardcore scene and made their inkling, showing that their craft had reached a serious developmental point that would only prove to be the tip of a towering, threatening (and consequently crumbling and tumbling) iceberg.

John Woo [demo]