Saturday, March 9, 2013

Nails - Abandon All Life

Nails' previous full-length Unsilent Death was a pleasant surprise. Caked in crust, hardcore and grindcore elements were fused together to create an uncompromising and energetic album. Thus my expectations were relatively high coming into their 2013 release Abandon All Life. With so many recent acts playing in similarly abrasive "-core" styles (Martyrdöd, Black Breath, etc.), Nails have some tough competition in the contemporary scene.

My first listen of Abandon All Life blew by me without me realizing the album was over. It transitioned into Obscene Humanity with me being misled into thinking that they had found their pissed off nature again. Granted Abandon All Life is a mere seventeen minutes in length, but I felt like it was just ramping up as it ended. The first few tracks are by far the most aggressive with the vitriol spanning the opener "In Exodus" to "God's Cold Hands." These short songs are filled with blastbeats, punkcore d-beats, and a mean vocal performance by Todd Jones. The riffing on Abandon All Life is pedestrian but a solid guitar tone adds a forcefulness that simplicity tends to lack.

It's in the second half of Abandon All Life where the album loses its focus. Songs are drawn out, meandering, and honestly quite boring. "Wide Open Wound" might have been a good indicator of the stylistic shift with its slow-paced chugging and pick slide bridge. These guys don't have the musicianship for this sort of thing and it usually just leaves me wishing that the slow tracks had a bit more of a dynamic to them. The closer "Suum Cuique" is five-minutes in length, and while it would be nice if the track had the development to back it up, it instead incites yawns and groans as the last two minutes drone and chug right by.

As I mentioned before, the mixing is decent with vocals and kicks dominating. The guitar tone is as hefty and as textured as it was on Unsilent Death, but there's just no aggression to be found past the first five minutes of Abandon All Life. I understand that in such a strict, limited subgenre (crustcore or whatever you wish to christen it) it can be tough for new dynamics to reach fruition in a band's established sound. That's certainly the case here where the latter parts of the album truly did abandon all aggression in favor of lifeless riffs and monotonous chugging sections.

5.5 out of 10

1. In Exodus
2. Tyrant
3. Absolute Control
4. God's Cold Hands
5. Wide Open Wound
6. Abandon All Life
7. No Surrender
8. Pariah
9. Cry Wolf
10. Suum Cuique

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