You Will Never Be One of Us
Nuclear Blast Records
Nails, the most extreme metal band in existence, return with their third full length album, “You Will Never be One of Us,” which continues to expand their pummeling hybrid of death metal, hardcore, and grindcore. Their previous record, 2013’s “Abandon All Life” won them a great deal of critical acclaim for its impossibly aggressive sound, and on this new album Nails have pushed beyond that level, reaching an entirely new state of musical existence. Produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, the sound on You Will Never be One of Us is the perfect combination of nastiness and clarity which helps the band sound livelier and more direct than they ever have before. Whereas previous albums sounded like they were recorded in a cave, this time around Ballou has captured the pure essence of the band: at times it sounds like they are right in your living room ripping your face off. This is not a record for the faint of heart, anyone expecting melody or harmony of any kind will be sorely disappointed, but for those who are looking for the most extreme sound out there, this is it.
Todd Jones has stepped it up in the vocal department, easily making for his best performance on a Nails record. By toning down the distortion and high pitched screams of previous records and honing in on a lower (and more visceral) vocal style, Jones pushes the band into the red on every single song, absolutely roaring on tracks such as In Pain and Parasite. As usual his lyrics are personal, confessional, and confrontational, hitting on themes such as isolation, revenge, and contempt for the human race. Of course you will likely need to take a look at the lyric sheet to understand what he is saying most of the time, but with this type of music that is expected. Jones is able to convey hatred, bitterness, anger, and anguish, all of which complement the impossibly aggressive music.
As with most metal releases special attention must be paid to the guitar tone, which can make or break an album for most fans. The guitar sound Nails conjure up on this album contains the perfect sonic balance of grit and heaviness. More importantly, it sounds real, as in it sounds like an actual human playing the guitar as opposed to most modern metal releases where the guitar is treated through so many effects that it sounds more robotic than human. The tone is reminiscent of classic death metal, thrash metal, and grindcore releases such as “Left Hand Path” by Entombed, “Scum” by Napalm Death, and “Reign in Blood” by Slayer, but with a more modern sound. It’s a thick and chunky sound that is full of lightning fast riffs and grooving breakdowns that fans of the band are accustomed to. A new addition to the band’s sound is the Slayer-esque guitar solos scattered throughout: all of which come across like a chainsaw to the face, perfectly complementing the overall sound.
Special attention has to be given to the drum performance of Taylor Young, who sounds absolutely unreal on this recor, mixing together impossibly fast blast beats with slamming breakdowns without sounding like a drum machine. Again, a highlight of this album is that it sounds real and genuine, not manufactured and fake. Each drum part adds another level of brutality and viciousness to the songs, driving them to the breaking point. The drum mix is also on point, sitting right beneath the vocals and the guitar, adding just the right amount of drive to each song.
Not to be left out, bassist John Gianelli is solid throughout, managing the arduous task of keeping up with Jones’ impossibly fast playing and adding the vital groove to many of the crushing breakdowns throughout the record. There are also a few bass breaks where he gets to show off his impeccable rhythmic skills, giving just enough of a break from the rampaging guitar onslaught.
There is really no point to discussing individual tracks as the album has a run time of 22 minutes (their longest album to date), with most songs barely lasting more than sixty seconds. This is a work that is meant to be listened to all at once as each track flows logically into the next one. Nails have actually toned down the speed this time around, as many songs feature longer breakdown sections or mid-paced sections. By doing this they have made the faster songs stand out even more, making for a much more varied listening experience. In summation, Nails have crafted another monumental record, making an album that never gets boring and one that demands your complete attention at all times. Of course by its very nature it is never going to reach mainstream acceptance outside of the underground metal community; in fact many will dismiss it as mere noise as they have done in the past. Such dismissal misses the point entirely: You Will Never be One of Us is a surging statement of intent, one that pushes the very limits of metal (and music in general), whether your like it or not Nails is making some of the most vital and important music right now. Highly recommended.
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