Album Review: Kicking Nerve – Bipolar

Music is for many people a cathartic experience — especially when said music is played relentlessly loud. Head down to any hardcore show or post-punk gig and see the people down front losing themselves to the furious fuzz of guitars and crash of violent percussion. It’s an almost ritualistic escape from the daily grind of life. In the majority of cases, the bands who push out the best music in these scenes understand this innately. Hell, most of them are living it. Most are working full-time jobs in order to fund their artistic passion, and many are pushed to breaking point simply trying to do something they love.

For the members of Kicking Nerve, an Athens, Greece based punk rocker band, it could be said the same. That much is clear from the moment you hit play on their debut album “Bipolar,” which was unleashed in August last year. This is an album that bristles with the wild energy of a live show — you can practically feel the heat of the band through the speakers as they barrel from one blistering track to the next. Most importantly, nothing about “Bipolar” is for show. As exhilarating as the album is, it’s also one of raw, honest emotion.

Kicking Nerve - Bipolar

Right off the bat, a lot of the band members’ personal experiences are brought to bear on this record. Many of the tracks draw from their own frustrations, as well as their attempts to understand themselves as persons and their place in the world. 

Musically the album operates at a high-octane sprint from start to finish. 11 songs of screaming vocals, pulverising percussion and thrilling, white knuckle guitar playing best characterise “Bipolar”. This could have made for a rather one-note listening experience, but Kicking Nerve change things up just enough to keep things interesting, and even then, tracks rarely stick around long enough to outstay their welcome. “Faces of Death,” for example, focuses attention in on an driving verse rhythm, while the lead guitar plays short, bright melodies over the top. Other tracks like “December” bring a moody swagger to “Bipolar” with sped-up riffs over some pulverising drumming. This is also one of many tracks where drummer Manos X really lets the percussion come to the fore, slowly changing up the tempo of the track to build to a cataclysmic crescendo.

“Bipolar” is a record with a lot of promise, not only for the future growth of the band, but also the live experience. With any luck, this incarnation of Kicking Nerve will stick around to deliver on that.

Grab the album from Bandcamp.