The Cali-based grinders Nails return to the spotlight after their acclaimed 2013 “Abandon All Life” with their 3rd full-length named You Will Never Be One Of Us, released under Nuclear Blast Records.
Accounting for a total of approximately 22 minutes, it’s their longest effort to date and, as usual, makes for an awesome substitute if you happen to be out of coffee. Coming full circle, Kurt Ballou’s incredible production efforts manage to top his own past works and make this record the most hard-hitting in the band’s catalogue to date. Which really means something, ask your eardrums.
If you watch the behind-the-scenes making of the record, you’ll see frontman Todd Jones stressing how they yet again strived to craft a concise, direct to the point effort employing a brutal, “no bullshit” songwriting approach. In Jones’ own words, “don’t bring unnecessary shit in it and make it as hard hitting as possible. Just get in, fuck everyone up and get out”. I think the attitude and overall quality of Nails is perfectly summed up into this sentence by drummer Taylor Young: “you know all those kinda rare parts on big metal records when you’re like ‘damn, I want to listen to that 11 minutes song just for that f*ckin’ one minute hard ass riff in the middle’? All we do is write that one minute hard ass riff”. And really, Nails records are nothing but incredibly catchy, adrenalinic riff salads that cut out just all of the fat, go straight to the point and will get you drawn in their all-out intensity. Todd Jones just can’t write a bad riff!
As with the past albums, the main concern for the band was getting consistency while avoiding monotony.
“I just want to make music that’s one emotion all way through, and I want it to be anger, though I don’t want people to say we put out the same record three times”, says frontman, guitarist and vocalist Jones. Nails wanted to create a record which would have been appealing to punk, hardcore and metal fans altogether, all-out aggressive but also memorable and catchy. That’s why they wrote their songs with a defined “pop-style” verse-chorus-verse structure.
The opener and title-track You Will Never Be One of Us starts with a skit with hardcore and metal celebrities (amongst which Jacob Bannon, Scott Kelly, John Baizley) firmly pronouncing the title itself. According to the band, the title and lyrics do not address to exclusivity or elitism, rather are about a sense of brotherhood and the subtle line dividing people who live with passion and dedication to music from the self-proclaimed “fans” with passive and uncaring attitudes in the scene. “You Will Never Be One of Us” is about making music for the sake of music and not for fame or acceptance, being part of something you love and are proud of contributing to.
As in usual Nails-trademark, the song hits you like a train and the sudden blasting section gets your adrenaline flowing. If anything, I found the closing double bass riff a little too naïve.
The infamous HM-2 fueled tone really shines here, and by the way the band will be shortly promoting a limited-edition boutique stompbox, the Tyrant by Dunwich Amps (Pic below, NDR. Also visible in the making-of videos, precisely lying in Kurt Ballou’s shirt pocket!) which was used on the record to provide a flavor of the historical above-mentioned Boss pedal.
Coming up, Friend to All is a flashy grinder, in my opinion similar to “Tyrant” from their previous record, both in riffs and length.
Made to Make You Fall begins to show us the Slayer-esque tributes which Jones decided to apply on this record. The noise component is limited with respect to previous works, and different in approach: way less feedback squeals, way more whammy bar abuse. Exactly paying tribute to Slayer.
Life Is a Death Sentence has a more punk approach, while Violence Is Forever comes back to cacophonic Slayer reminiscences in the bridge and outro. I found Savage Intolerance’s blasting section to be reminiscent of Abandon All Life’s “God’s Cold Hands”, in approach at least. The following tracks, namely In Pain, Parasite and Into Quietus are fast grinders.
The sludgy, grimy closer They Come Crawling Back is something really unexpected from Nails. Not only it is the longest track on the record for a surprising length of 8 minutes, but some melodic guitar lines are present! The melodic intro is very unusual for the band, still it contributes to building a sinister ambience up. In addition, the mid-piece noise\spoken passage really reminds me of Slayer’s “Hell Awaits”.
How to wrap this up? The band surely got what they were aiming for, a record which will manage to grab your attention for 22 straight minutes of relentless aural pummeling. Even though I’m finding myself still preferring their previous effort “Abandon All Life”, this is a really solid release and proves Nails as one of the most honest and promising realities of modern extreme music. Definitely recommended if you’re a fan of the genre.