Review: Nails - Abandon All Life

If Kurt Ballou isn't already the archetype of the modern day producer, I don't know who is. Despite being an integral part of one of the most revered heavy bands of the 21st Century (other than Mastodon who else genuinely matches up to Converge?), Ballou has been proficient in his production excursions and is once again the silent guru behind a Nails record. Ten tracks, seventeen minutes: Abandon all Life is an almost faultless, vociferous, brute of an album whose impact should not be underestimated.

The thing about Abandon all Life is that it's over before you're given a chance to really listen to it. In any other genre and that would be a fault, but not here. There's very little headway for amelioration, with few of these songs deviating from their chosen paths and it is a surprisingly infectious album with quite a few satiating hooks. It's fast and ferocious and it can initially be deafening - especially if you aren't already accustomed to this kind of playing.

Unlike a lot of bands within the genre, Nails know what they're doing. They're technically proficient and it makes Abandon all Life shine. The off-beat snares in God's Cold Hands are intensely satisfying and frontman Todd Jones's vocals are thick and agonizingly concise. For a band of Nails' nature, it's remarkable that the lyrics aren't as hard to make out as they should be. Doubtless it will sound like directionless screaming to virgin ears, but the fact that you can actually hear Jones screaming "I want to see you suffer" during Tyrant is astonishingly brutal.

What's more is that these tracks do well not to meld into each other like perhaps the tracks on 2010's Unsilent Death did. There's no respite but the tracks do enough to not be ambiguous without feeling disjointed. Least of all five-minute closer Suum Cuique - Latin for "to each his own", which somehow feels appropriate. It's the showpiece, managing to conclude the record by being the striking culmination of the nine songs before it and almost perfecting the short aberration with a stunning guitar solo.

In an interview with Todd Jones, when asked why Nails exist, his response was, "To create music we like". The wording of this question - "Why does Nails exist?" - implies that Nails needs an excuse to exist. Jones answered the question with a brusque and remedial swagger and it serves the band well that they don't create the music they do to alarm. On Abandon all Life, Nails - with the help of Kurt Ballou - have created a complete and utterly convincing Hardcore record that does very little to transcend its label; instead, it very nearly perfects it.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

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