Nails push the boundaries of just how aggressive music can be.
Label: Nuclear Blast
Released: 17th June 2016
Over the past few years, no other band has pushed the boundaries of just how aggressive music can be as much as Nails. The initial shocks of 2010s ‘Unsilent Death’ and the tidal wave of attention that came their way with 2013’s ‘Abandon All Life’ were due to the band presenting a sound that went five steps further in a purely sonic sense than anyone else had before. Considerable credit should go to the pioneering production of heavy music engineer Kurt Ballou on those records, and Nails have teamed up with him again for album three, their longest yet at 21 minutes, ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us’.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way – three albums in and Nails aren’t really doing anything drastically different to what they did the first time around. Their last album suffered from the same criticism, although it did have a more focused production and noticeably better flow than its predecessor. Here, Nails are slightly more direct with their assault.
The title-track opener lays the groundwork for much of what the record punishes the listener for lyrically, with Todd Jones calling out sycophants who latch onto others’ success. A few other tracks directly carry this thread forward – ‘Friend To All’ and ‘Parasite’, a track with some phenomenally pounding sections.
The next track to open up with standout presence is ‘Violence Is Forever’, one of the few Nails tracks to break the two minute mark, and leads to an overpowering chorus then decays to guitar squealing noise. ‘Savage Intolerance’ features the band cutting to silence before slamming back in like a howitzer cannon and later guitar chords rain down like pulverising shells themselves with this track’s end sounding like a relentless military machine. The blast-beats that open ‘Into Quietus’ are just as unstoppable and it’s this sort of sonic brutality that makes Nails as exciting as they are. By far the longest song they’ve ever done at eight minutes, ‘They Come Crawling Back’ closes, a battering-ram of a conclusion that sees Nails try something new and expansive.
In some ways this record is their best yet, in other way it’s not – but what’s for sure is that this record is just as relentless as their previous material, and the Californian band have not dropped their level of aggression and firepower whatsoever. James Fox