In the two minutes of "God’s Cold Hands," the first glimpse of hardcore metallurgists Nails' second LP Abandon All Life, the California quartet slingshots between surging drone, blistering grindcore, battering black metal, and stubborn D-Beat. All piss and vinegar, frontman Todd Jones matches the band’s variety with vocal calisthenics, switching between bitter screams and maligned growls with an appropriately Pentecostal conviction.
Converge’s Kurt Ballou produced Nails’ 2011 debut, Unsilent Death, but he’s outdone himself here. The sound is massive and strangely intimate, affording the band the sort of wallop that suggests they’re playing in the floor of your living room, not through the wires of your stereo. At points in the past, Nails have been alternately more aggressive and direct. Here, they are brutal, intricate and, to put it plainly, frightening. Southern Lord will release Abandon All Life on March 19.