Album Review: Nails – ‘You Will Never Be One of Us’

Album Review: Nails – ‘You Will Never Be One of Us’
Band: Nails
Album: You Will Never Be One of Us
Genre: Powerviolence/Hardcore/Hm-2core
Date of Release: 17/06/16
Location: California
Reviewer: Benjamin Muir
For Fans Of: Full of Hell, Code Orange, Weekend Nachos

Track Listing:
1. You Will Never Be One of Us [1:30]
2. Friend to All [0:46]
3. Made to Make You Fall [0:56]
4. Life is a Death Sentence [1:39]
5. Violence is Forever [3:27]
6. Savage Intolerance [1:47]
7. In Pain [1:02]
8. Parasite [0:55]
9. Into Quietus [1:34]
10. They Come Crawling Back [8:15]

It’s hard to say anything about Nails that hasn’t been said before. So let me put my best foot forward. I personally don’t mind Nails, but if you weren’t a fan of Nails before You’ll Never Be One of Us – well, you’ll never be (One of us?).

The contentious title of the album and several interviews surrounding it have ruffled a few feathers on the internet, prompting accusations of elitism and scene bullying – what little of the media isn’t already raving about the record that is. Unprofessional Twitter responses from the band aside, the general consensus from what I can gather as to what is inferred by said title is that “us” are people who have “dedicated themselves” to music and who are “doing it for the right reasons” (to borrow Jones’s own words on the matter) – whatever that means. It definitely won’t get album title of the year, that’s for sure, but with the hype that is already brewing, it may already be a contender for heavy album of the year in a lot of people’s books.

As for the content itself, the press has been circle-jerking this record non-stop – before reviewing it I’d seen memes about it pop up on my Facebook feed, not even from press, just from people who I knew who enjoyed the band. Somewhere in between being underground press darlings and today, Nails got really huge.

So I can’t perhaps blame a lot of the overenthusiastic press; I mean I get it, it’s a Nails record – but therein lies at once the biggest virtue and the biggest flaw: this isn’t hype borne of innovation so much as it is hype borne of the artist doing exactly what the fans expected.

As with the last two Nails records, TNBOoU is produced by Kurt Ballou, so you can be assured production will be equal parts crisp and ferocious – I would go on to state that more than simply this, the production is damn-near flawless. However, as with the flawless production, there is a certain familiarity in the songwriting and structure. So familiar in fact, you have a creeping sense that the folks in Nails wrote this batch of material at the same time as Abandon All Life. A lot of the material feels the same, but not as fresh given the passage of time. Which draws me to my second criticism of the album other than the title – it could have been put together from B-Sides from the last two Nails records. It’s heavy, it’s fast and laden with dissonance and feedback. Well, of course – so were the last two records. The title track, right up until the ninth track follows the same strict formula of blasts, fast tempos and flagrant HM-2 abuse. And while I enjoyed it, as I did Abandon All Life, it wasn’t as much of a step forward for the band as it could have been. For the first nine tracks at least, that is.

The redeeming gem in that rea is the final track, ‘They Come Crawling Back’, which at eight minutes and with some fairly moderately paced and doomy sections – represents almost an antithesis of the formula from which the previous tracks are written. Given that this single track is eight minutes on its own and the record is only twenty-two minutes long, I guess you could say that the latter half of the record involved some innovation. I would have liked to have seen more tracks like this one pushing the boundaries but I suppose on the other hand that I would have been as upset as many of the fans if Nails had released say, a drone/doom record.

To reiterate the point on which I started, if I were going to introduce a friend to Nails who hadn’t heard them, I would probably go to Abandon All Life first because this record doesn’t really bring that much new to the table – while this will certainly please a lot of old fans, I can’t see anyone who didn’t like Nails before now being swung by this release. That’s okay, though – because Nails have a looooot of fans, inside and out critical circles and I can’t see criticism of being formulaic slowing their growth as a band.

Vocals: 6/10
Lyrics: 6/10
Guitar: 9/10
Bass: 6/10
Percussion: 7/10
Songwriting: 7/10
Production: 9/10
Personal Enjoyment: 7/10
Overall IPHYB Rating: 7/10
Standout Tracks: ‘They Come Crawling Back’, ‘Violence is Forever’

Album Review: Nails – ‘You Will Never Be One of Us’
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