(Wil Cifer reviews the new album by Nails.)
Over the years trends in metal come and go, leading up into 2016 when grindcore and powerviolence seemed poised to break through into the metal mainstream. What Weekend Nachos failed to deliver is now jackhammered into your face by this trio from California, who possess a guitar tone as nasty as the instrument can achieve while still being able to create riffs capable of holding together actual songs. For the purpose of this review, the word “song” is used to refer to sharp bursts of rage.
Grindcore has never been my forte, as the genre’s range of dynamic expression sonically feels like coloring with only the red crayon of anger. While this might limit what many bands do, Nails are savants at coloring with this crayon so well that your only choice is to hold on for the jolting ride.
The title track opens the album, and even amidst the brutality is a hint of the maturity in the songwriting process. The message carried in songs like “Life is a Death Sentence” is barked with a conviction that draws you in. This time around the barked vocals feel more locked in with the guitar to almost make, dare we say, hooks. There is an S.O.D.– like feel to the mantra of “you’re a fucking failure “ on “Friend to All”. The beating continues with “Made to Make You Fall”, which packs more of a punch into 45 seconds than many bands do in their entire careers. “Violence is Forever” steamrolls you with the weight of the verse riff. The bass player must be a cyborg to keep up with this drummer. The tightly coiled attack here comes closer to a sound more familiar to the ears of mainstream metal audiences.
They indulge their more punk side against Kerry King-like solos on “In Pain”. They grind into “Parasite”, sinking their teeth briefly into a more death metal groove. “Into Quietus”, which might be the heaviest song on this album of fucking heavy songs, hammers a hole into your skull.
The key selling point of this band for me is the range of heavy they can hit you with in the minute and a half during which their songs typically have you by the ear. Of course, as my tastes run, the best song is going to be the darkest, so “They Come Crawling Back” really won me over. My rule when it comes to any genre is “cool riffs alone don’t make a good song”. These guys take the feral snarl of the guitar and put enough raw anger into them that they are transfigured from just cool riffs into honest expressions of their worst feelings.
Nails main-man Todd Jones has said the band won’t tour extensively due to their families, which could put a ceiling on the audience this will reach, though this album is being released on Nuclear Blast, so that can’t hurt things. The bigger label hasn’t dampened any of the band’s power, so if you were getting ready to scream “sell out!”, hold your breath, as fans of their previous work are getting what they asked for after Abandon All Life made them scream for more. One of the heaviest and most honest albums released so far this year.
You Will Never Be One of Us is set for release on June 17. To pre-order, go here or visit iTunes.