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Nerve [reviews]
Cancer Of Choice |Play It Again Sam Records, 1994|

1. Coins, 2. Fragments, 3. Oil, 4. Rage, 5. Closedown, 6. Water, 7. Seed, 8. Dedalus, 9. Trust, 10. Waters, 11. Thirties

Nerve's debut album unfortunately isn't the twin masterpiece of "Blood & Gold" released a year later, and it doesn’t represent ideas from that time either. However, it’s not that bad at all.
The problem is that Cancer Of Choice includes a lot of changing moods, beats, industrial backgrounds and sound experiments. Being aware of the impact "Blood & Gold" had on me, I can theorize that the band was looking for a method to create interesting music and finally chose guitars instead of samplers for the next album. Moreover, there are several influences of other bands and music styles on Cancer of Choice.
This album could have been made eventually, and gone over better if Nerve had released 4-5 albums before this one. "Cancer of Choice could have been located somewhere at the end of their discography as a compilation CD, bringing it into the limelight of past Nerve achievements. Other than that, this album is their debut and in its variety may point to either a searching process (to find the right sound and proper fans), or representation of experience with other music styles in which the band tried to include on the album marginalizing the final result.

Nerve was lucky to draw attention by the Play It Again Sam record label based in Belgium; known of headhunting for original sounds and artists, both guitar and electronic orientated. PIAS has had wide distribution channels in both Europe and the USA, so I’m surprised seeing that Nerve culminated into an insufficient career under such big label wings. I can speculate though either PIAS paid attention to the band because of this debut experimental album, or perhaps there weren’t enough units sold at the time, so the band figured they should turn to the metal scene and choose heavier tunes to grab a bigger audience.
This mindset eventually may not have been approved by PIAS and resulted in a discontinuance of cooperation. The real reasons are surely only known to the band members, and either Phil Mills or Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL now) can be asked about the details of the deal with PIAS (which we may eventually do in some future interview with Fabryka).

An experimental but still heavy electronica based song called "Coins" opens the album. Then we get an almost ambient-pop-metal song called "Fragments", followed with the heavy industrial metal of "Oil" and rap industrial of "Rage". On the other hand, "Closedown" reminds me "The Young Gods" style of music; filled with electronics and those typical, full of tension and aggression atmospheres as well. "Water" may make 16volt fans interested who like their sweeter, but still guitar driven songs. This track is however 5 minutes long, with arrangements that don’t vary much and brings boredom quickly to the listener.

I was surprised by "Seed" because after its flat content the other half of the song is filled with tight, predatory, yet danceable beats. Reminiscent of music by Front 242 and Cubanate. "Dedalus" didn’t satisfy me because it just sounds too standard, but the following instrumental song "Trust" exposed me to its power at once! Slow guitar riffs with ‘crying’ solos similar to songs by Skrew, but the heavy composition lightens up when the song enters into some higher tones towards the end. "Waters" continues the beauty of "Trust" in a way, but it sounds like a forerunner of "Screaming in Silence" (on Blood & Gold album) in case the band wasn’t satisfied enough with "Waters" then decided to go deeper and clearer recording "Screaming in Silence" for the last album. You may find some echoes of "Something I Can Never Have" by Nine Inch Nails in that song as well.

The album finishes with "Thirties" which actually didn’t interest me at all after knowing the perfection of Blood & Gold. I wouldn’t have thought the band had done such things earlier in their career.

There’s only a two gear rating on this album for a lack of self confidence in making arrangements. On the other hand, it’s worthwhile to have it to compare and illustrate the way the band evolved towards its last and best album.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, April 23rd, 2010. Proofreading: Scott M. Owens. Must not be used for promotional or commercial purposes. See a Legal Note for the copyrights below)

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