Up until recently, I was unaware of any fuckery and douchebaggery that Nails may have engaged in during their time as a band. They were just a bunch of guys who made very angry music that soothed even my most savage emotions into a state of calm, comfortable bliss. Then everyone around me had to point out the aforementioned fuckery and douchebaggery (while others just mentioned how much they suck) and now I can’t even figure out how to talk about their new album without mentioning it.
So now that that’s out of the way…
The first time I listened to You Will Never Be One of Us, I had a pounding headache by the end of track 3 (roughly three minutes in). Rather than tear the headphones off or reach for the aspirin, I closed one eye and kept on going with a thank-you-sir-may-I-please-have-another defiance. My entire being was being punished, and in a sick way, I was enjoying every minute of it. When I reached the end, though, I knew I had to step away.
Then a funny thing happened when I came back to it the next day: that didn’t happen. As those first notes hit, I slipped into that calm, comfortable bliss and just soaked in the cacophony. I’ve been doing that on the regular ever since.
Some random thoughts on the band and album:
Nails is not out to make art – they’re out to fuck shit up, and they’re not particularly concerned whether or not we like it (or them, for that matter). The opening trio of the title track, “Friend to All”, and “Made to Make You Fail” makes that much perfectly clear. Meanwhile, “Life Is a Death Sentence” and “Violence is Forever” are straight out of the nihilist handbook. Maybe there is a method to this mayhem after all. I don’t know if it’s art, but I like it.
Most of these tracks clock in around or below the 1:30 mark, yet they hardly seem that short. These aren’t a bunch of guys blindly attacking their instruments. They know exactly what they want to say, exactly how they want to say it, and are able to do it in a shockingly efficient manner.
Just when you think you’ve figured them out, Nails hits you with the 8+ minute closer “They Come Crawling Back” their most dynamic offering to date which actually goes against the previous sentiment by being played out methodically, deliberately, and feeling SHORTER than it is. Quite the feat.
As for the obligatory musical references, I’ve got the sound and feel of Swedish death metal (i.e. Entombed and Dismember), the hardcore filth of Systral, and the misanthropic hatred of Cult Leader. OK, you got me – this whole paragraph was just an excuse for me to drop a Systral reference. Hey, Black Smoker is the only album I’ve ever listened to where I felt like I needed a shower afterwards.
I understand that Nails is going to be a very divisive band, probably for years to come. People are going to hate them; people are going to love them; people who once loved them will grow to hate them; hell, people who once hated them may grow to love them. All I can do is be honest with you and my experience listening to You Will Never Be One of Us. So wherever you land, just make sure you get there for the right reasons.