17 minutes. That’s as long as you’d expect an EP to be. Then again, Nails isn’t an ordinary band. Their previous full length, Unsilent Death, was just about as long, yet it packed more into those minutes than most bands can pack into a conventional 60-minute LP. That album was a massive, amazing, brutal wall of noise, and many people (myself included) loved the fuck out of it. That said, this new record, Abandon All Life, has something to prove. And it fucking does it.
Honestly, I didn’t expect Nails to really change up the formula of what they do. They managed to do so whilst staying undoubtedly Nails. Unsilent Death was known for being known for being a 14-minute wall of sound. On this record, they have no problem slowing down the tempo a bit when it’s necessary. Songs like Wide Open Wound and Suum Cuique (the “Depths” of these records are you will) are every bit as heavy as everything else on the record, but as opposed to shooting you with an Uzi, these songs beat you with a hammer with their heaviness. Furthermore, the Gojira-esque end to the title track has a very similar feeling.
However, the album really shines in two key areas: the fast shit and the recording quality. The faster songs on this record have a bit more of a musicality to them – that is, if you even notice. The songs whiz by and just totally annihilate the listener. Good gawd. I haven’t felt this wanting to mosh since – well, Unsilent Death. Just good gawd. However, there are more discernible notes here than in Unsilent Death. Perhaps this is due to the recording quality. Unsilent Death sounded like it was recorded in a garage. It took a lot out of their low end and although it was still incredibly good, it could have sounded better with a bit better recording equipment. Abandon All Life manages to sound heavy, adding a lot more low end without compromising what made Nails great in the first place. I feel like this record captures more how Nails sounds live because of how good it sounds.
Overall, this is one of the top releases of 2013. Even though the record is so short, there are still many songs you’re going to spin over and over. Although I feel that Unsilent Death had a longer feel to it, this one, with the more diverse songwriting and the better production, is a great record in its own right.
1. In Exodus
3. Absolute Control
4. God’s Cold Hands
5. Wide Open Wound
6. Abandon All Life
7. No Surrender
9. Cry Wolf
10. Suum Cuique
Label: Southern Lord Records
Playing Time: 17:00 (yes, really)