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Nails - Abandon All Life

[19th March 2013]
[Southern Lord Records]

01. In Exodus
02. Tyrant
03. Absolute Control
04. God’s Cold Hands
05. Wide Open Wound
06. Abandon All Life
07. No Surrender
08. Pariah
09. Cry Wolf
10. Suum Cuique


After the release of Unsilent Death back in 2010, it was quite evident that California’s hardcore/metal act Nails were undeniably pissed off – and in the span of ten tracks blasting through a run-time of about fourteen minutes, they were dead set on getting that point across. A few years have passed since that album destroyed our aural canals, and it seems Nails have returned with an equally, if not more crushing album that looks to add further destruction to our already battered eardrums. In keeping with their speedy and relentlessness nature – but this time encompassing a more brutal delivery – their latest album Abandon All Life has its sights set on being one of the heaviest albums of the year.

Without much of a warning other than the screeching wail of feedback that opens up “In Exodus”, you’re sucker-punched to the gut by a relentless barrage of riffs and blistering drums that cut through you just as easily as a warm knife through butter. The speedy/punk-rock pace is held together by remaining consistent in delivery, and all the while the rapid fire changes in tempo enhance the tone and feel of the song – which in a timeframe of a minute and seventeen seconds is a feat, but something Nails excel at – and before you even begin to say to yourself “this song is killer!”, “Tyrant” is already adding to the wake of destruction left behind by the previous track; keeping the same pace yet throwing in a nice stomp-worthy break that is reminiscent of a track from Unsilent Death. It is these moments that Nails well… nails. They have this ability to include well-placed breakdowns, complete with infectious hooks that are just enough to grab your attention, yet short enough to leave you wanting more. It is these moments that will bring you back and adds to the albums overall re-playability.

Midway through we are treated to a real highlight of the album, as “Wide Open Wound” is just a wrecking ball of low to mid-range riffage, and enough stompiness that it will give your neck a cramp from all the head-banging you’ll be doing. A favorite of mine since it was made available before the albums release, the sheer force of this track is just crushing – like that of being pummeled over and over again without restraint. Plenty of down-tuned chord work is heard throughout, while the vocals of Todd Jones just add more viciousness to the resonating guitar and drum work. Simply a crushing tune from beginning to end.

After what could be considered the slowest Nails song on the album, the focus is shifted back to their trademark pace, as “Abandon All Life”, “No Surrender”, and “Pariah” are short controlled bursts of chaotic goodness, with “No Surrender” throwing in a bit of grindcore feel to it. The album’s closer, which is briefly set up by the twenty-four second kick to the nuts, “Cry Wolf”“Suum Cuique” is one of the best Nails songs ever written. This track is a beast, at times lumbering in deep riffs and the dissonance of chords ringing out, while other moments shifting back to a hurried pace – all of which is split in two by a manic solo that helps in controlling the shifting chaos. It stands to reason that this may well be the standout track on Abandon All Life – which serves as the perfect closer, as well as just being an overall kick ass song in its own right.

By combining the destructive force of Nails with the production/studio work of Kurt Ballou, it’s clearly a match made in heavy music heaven, as Abandon All Life is easily one of the heaviest and most vicious sounding albums of 2013. Any fan of their previous work, or fans of Drop Dead, Entombed, Converge, and Trap Them will feel right at home with Abandon All Life. And while I personally enjoy Unsilent Death a slight bit more, mainly for its non-stop relentless pace and the sheer pissed off attitude it reeks of, this new album is sort of the beefed up older brother, and nothing short of awesome. Do not pass on this album.