Nails ‘Abandon All Life’ CD/LP 2013

Nails 'Abandon All Life'Nails. Not often has a band been better named, this full-bore sludgy grindcore three-piece monstrosity is simply HARD AS NAILS. You may have come across them in 2010 as their Kurt Ballou-produced blunt force trauma of a debut album, ‘Unsilent Death’, got some pretty rave reviews, but for the uninitiated, they pretty much sound like Napalm Death, early Entombed and Eyehategod mixed together with some more hardcore punk righteous anger thrown in. You have original Terror member Todd Jones on vocal and guitar, so you know there is going to be some finger-pointing potential moshpit action here. There’s also an undercurrent of noise rock a la Unsane in the sound, which is even more ‘Kurt Ballou’ than on ‘Unsilent Death’, further enhancing the punk/noise as opposed to metal aspects. His style could be described as ‘integrated’, nothing particularly stands out or gets special treatment, it’s just one mass of sound coming at you. Judging by the amount of people that love Converge, his idiosyncratic way of producing ‘metalcore’ isn’t too esoteric. And it certainly works for Nails, conjuring a sense of the no-doubt full body pulverisation that would be the live experience.

The previous album was around 14 minutes, and this is positively an epic at 17 minutes. It comes blazing out of the blocks with ‘In Exodus’, which is pure coruscating, bile-filled excitement, swiftly running into the incoherent short blasts of fury that are ‘Tyrant’ and ‘Absolute Control’, you know there is some political rage going on, if the lyrics could be deciphered.

Nice little touches of perhaps unexpected musical sophistication emerge as the album progresses, eg the serial killer-esque sigh that’s heard in the background of the generally scary ‘Wide Open Wound’, as the guitars let go of their grip for a second. And in the stunning, furious title track, the guitars even start doing that sweep picking thing that Gojira have made their trademark. No punk rock barre-chord apes here, there are some ‘chops’ going on to be sure among the hoarse barking of Jones. In fact the title track is pretty much Converge if they were a full-blown punk band, it’s relentless and beautiful. The closer, the comparatively prog rock of ‘Suum Cuique’, takes the band into some extended riffing and great drum parts that trudge along in head-nodding fashion but as heavy as anything. It all collapses into a sturdy Entombed/Neurosis coda, but without losing its grasp on you, it’s a hard, mean finish to the album, which is all around a brilliant pummelling bout of aggressive hardcore noise.

This album could be a bleak, painful affair to some who enjoy their music a little more stretched out; the title, the songs clambering in to punch you before the guitars of the previous song have shut up, the relentlessness of it all, but actually it’s kind of inspiring. Clearly there’s genuine fury and ‘I’m still pissed off at everything despite being a fully grown adult’ vibes everywhere, but this is what makes this album a great breath of fresh, well slightly stale, air. Where someone like say Kyuss’ John Garcia appears to never have had a bad day in his life, you don’t always want to hear about that, sometimes it’s important to watch a documentary on war, engage with other people’s pain, partly to awaken your senses and maybe make you a more conscious person, at least. This is what music like this does to you, it’s a wake up call, it’s not pretty, but neither is an injection of antibiotics, but it might save you.

Label: Southern Lord

Scribed by: James Parker