As the most successful English-language group to come out of Dubai, Nervecell have a lot to live up to. When they signed to German label Lifeforce, Rami Mustafa, Barney Ribeiro and Rajeh “James” Khazaal proved that local acts could compete on the international stage. Their second full-length, Psychogenocide, is a careful balance between old-school death metal, modern thrash and selected Eastern influences. Mixed and mastered in Warsaw by the Wieslawscy Bros., the album is due out in late March, and sees the trio capitalizing on the experience garnered from their heavy touring schedule over the last couple of years. The days of dividing their time between music and jobs or university degrees are over, and Nervecell have accomplished what other bands in the U.A.E. have long dreamed of: they’re full-time musicians.
In a surprising twist for the metallers, the first track on Psychogenocide has no guitar work or vocals. Built around the oud, this instrumental opener puts a new spin on a traditional Arabic sound. “We wanted pure instrumental with a dark and apocalyptic feel to open the album,” explains Mustafa. “We brought the Arabic feel into this piece in the darkest way possible with the help of a very unique selection of scales.”
“Upon An Epidemic Scheme”
“The song is about the unfolding of an evil plan that was set up years ago by the corrupt societies who reign over us and continue to do so until today,” says Ribeiro. One of the first songs written for the album, the track blends old-school death metal with modern thrash.
“All Eyes On Them”
With its melodic chorus, the track channels old-school Nervecell, and is the only number with lyrics contributed by Ribeiro and Khazaal. “It’s a controversial song where we’re basically telling the ‘higher ups’ that we know they’re out there and the tables have in fact turned this time around,” Ribeiro adds. “It’s got a lot to do with building one’s character to wake up and face the cruel world we live in today.”
During breaks from writing, Ribeiro would watch TV. “All that would be on at the time were either these preppy MTV shows like The Hills or non-stop violence on the news.” Stunned by the dichotomy, “Amok Doctrine” is about the world carrying on despite the chaos on all sides. “You can actually hear the anger in the music right from the second this tune starts, this one is for those who are pissed off and want to see change.”
The title track showcases Nervecell’s diverse influences, and combines Khazaal’s trademark growls with some high-pitched vocal work. “I can firmly say it’s the most exciting track to listen to on the album,” says Ribeiro. “I think its fairly obvious what we are singing about here; mind control, brain washing etc. The music really lives up to the title too as some of the guitar tracks are very twisted and complex, adding the perfect vibe to the mood of the song.”
The shortest song on the album, Ribeiro believes “Imprint” will impress right from the first listen. “It will be the one song from the album that we will probably be playing a lot on the live circuit just because it’s so damn groovy.”
“Shunq (To The Despaired…King Of Darkness)”
Shunq is an Arabic word, meaning to choke or be hung by the neck. “This is a very special song,” says Mustafa. “James sings in Arabic for the first time ever on this song.” “It’s got Karl Sanders from Nile doing guest vocals,” adds Ribeiro. “You can’t go wrong with that.”
“The Taste of Betrayal”
Despite its sentimental name, “The Taste of Betrayal” is a dark and doom-riddled track. Originally written as part of another song, the band decided to keep it as an instrumental. “It had a unique mood to it unlike anything else we’ve done before,” says Ribeiro. “Not all extreme metal bands would attempt to compose a slightly softer track on an album, but we were confident that this will benefit the mood of the album as a whole.”
“Driven By Nescience”
The only track on the album that the group had difficulty writing, Ribeiro and the rest of the band had different ideas for the song even as they headed into the studio. “I think it has a lot to do with the fact that, musically, it has its fair share of death metal, black metal and unpredictable transitions that keep occurring.”
Meant to “punch the listener in the face one last time before the album ends,” the closing track was chosen, Ribeiro explains, “because it takes the listeners back to the early Nineties death metal days where it wasn’t all about technicality, but pure feel.” The industrial beats at the start of the song add a modern touch to the epic track. “Then it kicks into a very heavy and big sounding wall of riffs,” says Mustafa.