You Will Never Be One of Us
Nuclear Blast Records/Universal Music Australia
Reviewed By Simon Milburn
This year has already seen a mountain of albums hit the shelves of your favourite store, be it a bricks and mortar store or one of the many digital options. I think it’s fair to say that one of the most anticipated albums of 2016 is You Will Never Be One of Us by California (U.S.A.) brutal death grind trio Nails. There’s been quite a bit of hype for this release from press and fans alike which certainly puts a bit of pressure on the final product delivering the goods. It’s been three years since the release of their brutally ugly sophomore album, Abandon All Life. It was a kicker of an album that certainly pushed the limits as far as in your face angry powerviolence goes. Their second long player clocks in at ten tracks running just over 17 minutes. That gives you an idea of what to expect from Nails if you are not familiar with what they are about.
For any band, an increase in album length of 25% can be the difference between a classic and a stinker that overstays its welcome or is home to a fair whack of filler. Overly long albums When you play with the ferocity of Nails, that kind of an increase, which only equates to an additional four and a half minutes of balls our fury, still pushes your ability to digest the entire album, but in different ways.
You Will Never Be One of Us is exactly what you expect from Nails - crushing, dense, down-tuned, buzz-saw ripping guitars, thundering drums and completely unhinged vocals. There’s plenty of anger spewing forth from every conceivable angle in a cluster of short, violent songs. Having said that, it feels strange to say this, but You Will Never Be One of Us feels safe compared to its predecessor. Sure, they both contain short songs and they both contain a pair of lengthier cuts. But overall, the songs on here are lacking. The stupid thing, I can’t nail down just what that is. Abandon All Life had an identity in the same way that We Are the Damned’s Holy Beast (2011) and Trap Them’s Darker Handcraft (2011) did. As much as they sounded familiar, they still had an identity. It all comes down to the songs and on You Will Never Be One of Us, they fall short (pardon the pun).
It’s important to note that if it wasn’t for the duo of “Violence is Forever” and “They Come Crawling Back”, then this release would total around ten minutes or so. When you listen to those eight short tracks, the demarcation lines very quickly blur and there’s little to differentiate the tracks. They really do start to sound the same. The secret to good short songs is giving them an identity that allows them to stand alone. Look at some of Napalm Death’s earliest works. I rest my case.
Now, let’s get one thing clear. I don’t hate this album at all. Crikey, it’s not like this is Devildriver or Five Finger Death Punch I’m talking about here. It’s decent and clearly undeniably Nails sounding, but it’s just not quite what I was hoping it would be.