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Album Review: NAILS Abandon All Life

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When I saw Nails at New England Metal and Hardcore Fest in 2011, I was instantly won over. They had such a raw, no nonsense sound and were able to replicate that spirit so perfectly live that I couldn't help but rush upstairs to buy one of their T-shirts and get hold of all of their music. And while Unsilent Death is a fun blast of "Entombed-core" grind, it did not quite live up to how the band sounded live. On Abandon All Life, Nails has made a gigantic improvement with a punishing, albeit brief slab of fury and aggression. Abandon all pretenders, Nails is the real raw thing.

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The loud, punchy, Converge-meets-Entombed fuzzbox sound embodied by Nails, Black Breath, and others has to be one of the best developments in metal in recent years. It takes metal back to basics, while putting a new twist on the hardcore-metal brand that has gone largely unheard in the past (it was years before I even heard of notables like Citizen's Arrest). Abandon All Life contains much of the same punch and grit that made Unsilent Death such a breath of wonderfully filthy air. But this time, Nails has better writing, better riffs, and a better approach that makes for a much more memorable listen. Much of the band's hallmarks remain from the previous record, though the vocals are less guttural and more high pitched this time. From the outset, Nails lights a fire of blastbeats and screaming anger that only morphs later into menacing wasteland of the mid-album highlight, "Wide Open Wound". Where Unsilent Death sounds like a band getting together to have some fun making noise, Abandon All Life sounds like the same band saying "Ok, let's focus on this noise and make something really great."

If I had to give the band one suggestion: write some more longer songs next time. It feels funny to say that, since I'm often listening to more proggy stuff and thinking, "these songs need to be shorter" and going on about how I like things straightforward. But in this case, the longer tracks like "Suum Cuique" give Nails to room to breathe and add something more to their rapid fire grind blasts. Not that they should abandon these shorter sings outright, but it would be nice if Nails could give us more…well, Nails. However, perhaps in this brevity lies Abandon All Life's greatest success: it leaves you battered, exhausted, and breathing out the only appropriate request, "Please sir may I have another?"

Rating: 8/10

Favorite Songs: "In Exodus", "God's Cold Hands", "Wide Open Wound", "Pariah", "Suum Cuique"

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