Album review: Nails – Unsilent Death (10th Anniversary Edition)

Almost a greatest hits of their earlier days, the impact of the 10th anniversary edition of Unsilent Death is immediate and overwhelmingly attractive

2020, if nothing else, has given musicians time to focus on songwriting and recording, and also given established artists the space to release quality anniversary editions of important records in their discographies. California’s grind legends Nails are no different, unleashing the 10th anniversary edition of their stunning debut, Unsilent Death, and it’s a cracker.

When Unsilent Death dropped in 2010, their heady mix of grindcore, powerviolence, and outright hardcore was a breath of fresh air that blew everyone away, and it still has a similar impact today. This is catchy grind with pockets of sludge and grooves a mile wide, and it hits like a hammer to the head.

The original 10 songs of the album proper have not been touched or tampered with, and for good reason. Unsilent Death is one of the finest grind albums of all time from a production standpoint – all the levels and balance washed in clarity and hard-hitting power – and it stands head and shoulders above most. The attraction of this package is the bonus content which comprises three songs from their Obscene Humanity EP from 2009 and two songs from the Unsilent Death sessions that have never seen the light of day, all remixed and mastered by Kurt Ballou and Nick Townsend respectively.

The original album is just a blast of pure intensity that comes out swinging and leaves with blood on its hands, and is still a crowning jewel in the band’s discography. Tracks such as “Scapegoat”, “I Will Not Follow”, and the Napalm Death-esque title track are potent and drenched in d-beat goodness, and it’s a joy to revisit. More importantly, the bonus tracks are just as vital and visceral, not to mention ball-bustingly vicious.

The tracks from the EP are urgent, ugly bastards. “Confront Them” is a grind dancefloor chart-topper that is the sound of apocalypse and utter aggression. Damn, it’s nice. “Obscene Humanity” is energetic and wallows expertly in backbeat and a riff that just won’t quit, and “Lies” is out-and-out intensity that sounds like 80s grind with a modern confidence – a heady mix which is heavier than a pregnant rhino.

The two unheard songs could easily have been included on the original album and wouldn’t have messed with the flow or vibe. “Leech” is classic grind to the bone – uber-fast, blasting hot, and chaotic to the max – it smacks you to the floor before mopping you up with a sludging mid-section that grooves like a bastard. Speaking of groove, “Enemy” has it in spades, but allows the extremity to push it to another level. This is Nails at their utmost best, reminiscent of Nasum at the height of their powers.

The 10th anniversary edition of Unsilent Death is obviously a necessity for fans looking to add to their collection, but it’s also a killer intro for new listeners (not to mention the now definitive edition of the debut record). Almost a greatest hits of their earlier days, the impact is immediate and overwhelmingly attractive, as with all Nails material. And with the shocking departure of their drummer and bassist recently, this may or may not be the last hurrah. Absolutely essential, this is an anniversary edition not to be missed.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

FFO: Trap Them, Full Of Hell, Rotten Sound

Unsilent Death (10th Anniversary Edition) is out now via Southern Lord Recordings

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