Photography by Gregory Dourtounis
Article & Interview by Jenna Williams ‘The Scream Queen’
Nervosa is a globally connected Thrash Metal band comprised of all female Musicians. Both bassist, Hel Pyre, and guitarist Helena Kotina are based out of Greece, while their drummer, Michaela Naydenova, is from Bulgaria, and the founding member of Nervosa, vocalist and guitarist, Prika Amaral hails from Brazil. They are releasing their fifth album titled Jailbreak on September 29th of 2023 through Napalm Records. It is also the first album featuring Helena as a permanent guitarist for the band.
“Heavy Metal is talking the same language all over the world, no matter from where you’re from, no matter what your mother language is. When it comes to Heavy Metal, there is a total connection to everybody,” says Helena, who began her journey as a guitarist when she first began learning songs from The Scorpions and Judas Priest when she was younger. The very first song Helena composed was when she was in an unnamed school band, they had two demo songs, “I remember when I came up the first idea, the first riff of the song, it felt like all the doors to another world were opening, because then I was practicing and learning songs from other bands, from my favorite guitarists. This feeling I had at that time, it’s priceless, it’s unique. Even if you try to pass it to someone, ‘you know, I wrote this song, this riff,’ your enthusiasm and your Love about it, cannot be described with words.”
Helena’s first concert experience was in 2007 watching The Scorpions in a stadium with her older brother, “I was fifteen years old, and my parents didn’t let me go by myself, so we both went. It was my first time going to a stadium, going to a concert, going to see my favorite band. I was just sitting there looking around, and it felt magic to me how so many, thousands of people, because we were talking about forty-five or fifty-thousand people. It felt magical how all these people have the same connection about Music and have the same connection about the band. What the band has achieved after so many years of their career, they still have so many people attending their concerts. This is huge for me. After so many years of career, so many records, tours, being at that age, and also seeing this amount of people at a concert was unbelievable to me.”
The title track of the album, Jailbreak, is also one of Helena’s most favorite songs from the album. It is also one that she couldn’t wait to begin working on when the ideas and melodies came to her. She felt the need to go home immediately and begin recording it. Most of the time when inspiration strikes for Helena, is usually when she’s at her home studio, when she’s playing and fooling around on the guitar, and then something comes to her. There are other times, where the ideas and melodies come to her sporadically, “I go for a run or go for a walk, somewhere outside, and there is an idea or a melody coming in my mind, and I’m instantly taking my cell phone, recording this idea. Seeing this idea and then I run home to start working on it.”
One of the songs Helena enjoys playing the most, especially live, is their second single, Seed of Death. There’s a moment in the song where Helena and Prika are playing twin guitars during the melody and solo, “I have goosebumps every time we are playing this because it’s the first time doing it with Prika, what we planned from the beginning, when we started thinking about the album and doing the first recordings.”
Fan Facts: Prika and Helena created the very first riff together for the opening track, Endless Ambition. It is also the first single released off of Jailbreak. You can check it out here!
Listening to the album from start-to-finish, Jailbreak closes with the track, Nail The Coffin, “It’s a powerful song, has also melodies, it’s a fast song and it’s totally nailing the coffin for the album ending. We were thinking about the sequence of the songs. In the album and we said like, “Okay, Nail The Coffin has to be the last one.” It’s one of my favorite songs, I have to say inside the album.”
As Nail The Coffin and Suffocare were in the creation phase, the solos were the last things they composed from the album, which were all done in the studio. The solos were a bit challenging because of how they change around in both songs, “That’s why when we finally got it, when we finally got there and composed everything, it’s why I have these as the most fresh, from my top favorite songs in my mind.”
Helena and Prika went to Alcides Burn of Burn Artworks, a company based out of Brazil, with the lyrical concepts of what the album is about, and wanted him to interpret what he heard into his Art. What he came up with is a painting of two hands wrapped with broken chains, clutching to the facial skin off of its own skull, appearing as if it ripped its own face off. Alcides also painted the single covers for the first track off the album, Endless Ambition, and for Seed of Death.