Abandon All Life
01 April 2013
by Raziq Rauf
This album leaked a long time ago. It was the middle of February – six weeks before it was meant to be released to the public. The clamour to hear Abandon All Life was so tangible because this is one of the most anticipated releases in their corner of the metal world. Ever. Since they released Unsilent Death in 2010, the likes of Trap Them and All Pigs Must Die have come along and astounded listeners a couple of years ago with their Entombed-encrusted hardcore and Black Breath did it before and after that, turning into leaders of the field, but Nails are the ones that always embodied the purest feeling of futility that permeates the genre.
Now, however, it’s 2013 and Southern Lord has saturated the market with a dozen blackened death crust albums a month – all produced by Kurt Ballou – and it’s difficult to see what the actual fuss is with Nails. It’s been three years and now, after hearing Abandon All Life, you can’t help but wonder if they were so heralded simply because there wasn’t much else to choose from. Trap Them have got their quirky riff nuances, Black Breath have excellent songs and momentum on the live circuit and APMD have anti-political angst and a Converge member in their midsts. Nails have returned with 17 minutes of uncompromising brutality.
The problem is that the songs mostly just blend into one another. The opening three minutes see three songs that really just don’t sound different enough to warrant having separate song titles. ‘God’s Cold Hands’ is the first track that does, but it still begins in the same way as opening track, ‘In Exodus’. The two longer songs, ‘Wide Open Wound’ (3m37s) and ‘Suum Cique’ (5m22s) enjoy having a little bit of extra time to breathe, slowing down and allowing the chugging riffs to really resonate rather than explode at breakneck speed. Here, the music seems to be a vehicle for the song rather than a getaway car to the end of the album.
The 81 seconds of the title track are the most impressive on Abandon All Life. Still proceeding at an excellent pace, there is time to slow down for some delicious death metal riffs. That, however, happens far too infrequently. Sure, anger is an important facet in the heaviest of bands, but delivery is equally important and there’s a sense that occasionally Nails can’t see the wood for the angry trees. There are new albums from Trap Them and All Pigs Must Die to look forward to in 2013 anyway.
Sounds Like: the most metal Southern Lord Entombed-core band
Standout Tracks: Abandon All Life, Wide Open Wound