by Ray Henry (mouthforwar.net)
There are some albums that one encounters that you can simply toss in the stereo, sit back comfortably in your smoking jacket and just listen to the music. Then there are others, like the latest from California’s Nails, that are the complete opposite. Abandon All Life is an album that you not only have to mentally prepare for, but a few physical preparations (helmet, mouthpiece, padding on the sharp corners of furniture) may be in order, as well.
These ten tracks, lasting just over 17 minutes, are full of crushing rhythms, squealing reverb, gritty riffage and a barbaric aggression unmatched by many of the group’s peers. There’s no denying that Nails are indeed pissed-the-fuck-off. Whether it be the unbridled fury of Todd Jones’ vocal delivery or the neanderthal-like, grinding bludgeonings of drummer Taylor Young — or any combination therein including the buzzed, distorted bass lines of John Gianelli and relative newcomer Saba on second guitar — Abandon All Life delivers more vitriol in a few short minutes than most bands do over a few albums.
Starting off with the crushing “In Exodus,” Abandon All Life is all about hitting as hard as possible, as many times as possible and as violently as possible. It’s a recipe driven by anger and a vicious delivery. But, it’s not until the guys let loose with absolute, primitive rage in the form of “Tyrant” that you truly feel the weightiness behind the direction Nails has taken this album. It’s a song that is probably more effective than a high-powered sand blaster in removing flesh from bone, leaving you a crumpled mass of quivering gloop.
And if you thought “Tyrant” was abusive, then you’re in for a treat with the abrasiveness of “Absolute Control,” and it’s short-lived eruption of furious, d-beat driven mayhem. “No Surrender” is a burst of grinding destruction that’s fairly single-minded in it’s goal while the five minute long “Suum Cuique” is much more developed and shows that the band is more than capable of producing 23 seconds of blunt force trauma as heard in “Cry Wolf.” The closing track has a bit more groove and the Entombed-flavored riffage that we’ve heard on previous efforts. It’s a dark track with sludgy tones and wraps up the album nicely.
There’s a point, however, in Abandon All Life where you become eternally grateful that each song exercises a measure of brevity. It’s tough, despite the album’s short duration, to sit through all of it comfortably. This is both a blessing and a curse for the band. At one point you want to willing receive the sledge hammering of “God’s Cold Hands” upon your cranium and then next you want to protect yourself by any means necessary when encountering the likes of the grinding title track. Regardless of whether you’re ready or not, Nails delivers a hurting like no other with their latest full-length.