Violence Is Forever
There are a few pertinent questions one might consider after having pressed play on You Will Never Be One Of Us, and 6 songs immediately fly by in roughly ten minutes of distortion, Slayer-inspired riffing, punk and thrash temperament, utterly pulverising drum work and a hellish vocal performance. These may go something along the lines of: “What’s a normal heart-rate again?”, “Is happiness even real?” and “Do my housemates now think I’m a sociopath because I insist on bellowing the words LIFE IS A DEATH SENTENCE at the top of my voice?”.
The answer to all those questions is, of course: “who gives a fuck?”. And, considering the vehemently nihilistic themes and the comprehensively cheerless tone on this complete nuclear warhead of an album, that is by far the most appropriate response imaginable.
Formed in 2009, and having released 2 EPs and 2 full-lengths up to this point, it was really the band’s previous record, 2013’s Abandon All Life, that saw NAILS put a boot into the collective face of the Metal community. Always ferocious on record, the sheer intensity captured on that album brought a tear to the eye of even the most hardened pit veteran, but it was also the band’s ability to mix unmitigated brutality with “hooks” (in the loosest sense of the word, mind) that made Abandon All Life such a phenomenon. Well make sure you limber up folks; You Will Never Be One Of Us is even better.
Immediately apparent on this record is the crisper production job courtesy of the mighty Kurt Ballou; though don’t let yourself be fooled into believing that this makes it accessible. It absolutely does not. The devastating assault of Friend To All, the aural demolition of In Pain (complete with, *gasp*, a guitar solo) and the grotesque sonic-tapestry-daubed-in-blood of Parasite ensure that this record remains very much at the extreme end of our world. This is grisly, murderous and obnoxious music, but, as on previous NAILS outings, it’s irrefutably fun.
Interestingly, as on Abandon All Life, we again see NAILS branching out into longer song structures here. This time out, in addition to the adrenaline-fuelled slug-fest of their shorter songs - often akin to sticking a wet finger in a plug socket for 50 seconds - it is on tracks such as the three and a half minute Violence Is Forever and the doom-laden, dread-soaked, eight minute album closer They Come Crawling Back that the listener gets to uncover more of what makes NAILS tick. The former progresses through a host of tempo changes and pummeling double kick, whilst the latter builds suspense and eeriness through discordant picking under a storm cloud of feedback before dragging the listener through a swamp of pain and anguish. Both of these tracks demonstrate welcome, and successful, experimentation and are standouts in an album full of highlights.
It would be remiss not to mention the brilliance that is the title track and album opener. A song that surely encapsulates everything about why this genre of music is so utterly enthralling. A brief opening passage of blasting iron-stamps this as a NAILS record, and, as that grin stretches across your face whilst you beat the table rhythmically, a riff stuffed full of groove and menace accompanied by a searing vocal hook takes you in a malevolent new direction. It’s simple, it’s merciless and it’s profoundly effective.
You Will Never Be One Of Us is a record which, across 10 tracks and just shy of 22 minutes, wrenches the ugliest side of humanity up from a festering and putrid bog of bile, monstrosity and barbarism. And it’s simply glorious.
Strap in, and listen to NAILS.