PERIL BY MARKUS
Nerve Saw is a band that has travelled from the usual minimalist death metal to a punk/hardcore and death metal crossover. Formed in Finland in 2010 by Sadistik Forest/Hooded Menace bass player and vocalist Markus Makkonen, Nerve Saw released an EP called ‘Call of the Casket’ (2017) and a debut album ‘Peril’ (2020). Whereas ‘Call of the Casket’ saw Markus performing all the instruments and vocals by himself and being musically full-on death metal, on ‘Peril’ Nerve Saw has grown to be a full band with international members involved. Vocalist and bass player Makkonen did team up with another Finn, guitarist Heikki Matero and Dutch drummer Michael Dorrian for the album recordings. Also, the music had changed, taking now as much influence from the 80’s hardcore scene as from the death metal of the 90s. Somebody described the music as G.B.H. playing At the Gates, or Dismember performing music similar to the crustier end of Darkthrone discography.
Our debut album ‘Peril’ came out via Testimony Records in 2020. It was recorded in Barcelona, at Moontower Studios, at the helm of Javier Félez (Graveyard, Teitanblood) during the Catalan riots and protests of 2019. These peculiar surroundings gave quite a setting to the recording such a crusty, hardcore influenced album as we were doing. After ‘Call of the Casket’, I was getting more and more bored with an ever-increasing number of generic death metal records coming out and did not want to release anything new if I did not find a fresh angle to the music itself. At some point in 2018, I was listening to my old Finnish punk albums (the music scene I grew up with) and had a revelation of sorts: What if I would combine the two musical styles that mean to me the most? Early punk and hardcore AND death metal. The album came together quite fast after that, and then asked two of my long time friends – Heikki and Michael – to join the band as full members. ‘Peril’ turned out to be an honest, full-on band album and not another living room project we get too often these days! Loud, uncompromising and straightforward noise from the garage.
‘Peril’ is absolutely an album I am very, very proud of. It was a journey to the quintessential influences of ours. Therefore it is also sincere, as we do not have to try out to be anything else than what we are, as people and as musicians. There is the punk stuff, Sepultura, Motörhead and Celtic Frost for me, Raised Fist and Kreator for Heikki and Obituary and Suicidal Tendencies for Mike. All these influences combined gave us the foundation to build the debut album into what it eventually became.
Even as Call of the Casket served its purpose well when it was recorded (this was already in 2011), today, it sounds maybe a bit typical dose of death metal to my ears. In 2011, when it was written and recorded, there was a revival of old school death metal going on and inspired by that, I wrote the EP to the form it is. It simply felt natural around the time. Due to a record deal gone bad, it was delayed for many years and was not released until I found a new label for it around 2017. When it was finally out, there were already quite a many old schools and retro-sounding death metal bands going, and they were starting to sound quite predictable, the vast majority of them. Therefore, if there would be another Nerve Saw release, the style needed to be something else again. I knew many people like the EP a lot and were maybe a bit disappointed when the debut album sounded different, but to us, as a band, this was the only way around.
Nerve Saw was formed out of my love for basic, full-on death metal. No gimmick, no bullshit bands like Obituary and Master being the main influences. My journey with death metal started already in 1995 when we formed our first group of this kind. It was a youthful take off 15-16-year-olds on bands we adored at the time, namely early Amorphis, early Sentenced and Black Sabbath. I have played many other types of music during the years, but death metal has been a mainstay for all this time. It is the music I find most natural to play, and it comes out of me unforced.
Lyrics indeed are highly essential to the experiencing of music. At least for me, they are! As being raised on bands like Napalm Death, who see a lot of effort in that particular department, it has always felt quite boring to sing about the death metal standards – ghouls, goblins, zombies, or basic “hail Satan, the master” content without any deeper thought to the ideology of Satanism, not to mention the stereotypical gore subjects. Therefore, my lyrics have always been a bit more on the punk side of things anyways than your standard takes on butchery, war and the living dead. On ‘Peril’, the subjects of the lyrics revolve around the stupidity of the herd mentality, where people jump on to whatever seems to be the popular consensus of the day or blindly follow as anybody else seem to be doing so. Social media is only enhancing this behaviour. There is a line on the back cover of the album, saying, “the thing with the witch-hunts is that they always need the next one – and it could be you”. I guess that is the bottom line behind the lyrics for the album too. Dog eat dog way of certain people and revolutions devouring their children—those type of things. Then there is hostility towards organised religion in ‘Nails’ and thoughts about the soldiers returning from the front line in ‘The Red Line’. How the people who lead their nations to the state of war being nowhere in sight when the fighting takes place and how people who have nothing to do with the events leading to it pay the price for somebody else’s politics. With their lives, or the rest of their lives. Then there’s the last song of the album, ‘The Wolves of the 80’s’, which reflects on our childhood here in cold war era Finland and to the modern-day. We thought in the 90s that certain things would change and how cold war would permanently history. Still, in recent years the dialogue has gotten to be closer and closer to those days of our youth, with populism and power-tripping leaders who learned their trade in the cold war times and are thus repeating the formula.