Nails are known for being an excellent, abrasive metallic hardcore with defiant punk elements. Based in Southern California, Nails are currently on deep-South, boozehound, sludge-loving label Southern Lord. The Obscene Humanity 7” comes to whet their audience’s appetite, filling in a gap between their recent split with Skin Like Iron and their forthcoming full-length, to be titled Abandon All Life, which will also be released on Southern Lord later in 2013.
Obscene Humanity does not contain any new material. The record is composed of re-recorded versions of three of the tracks from their debut 12”, which was also called Obscene Humanity and first appeared in 2008, before their breakthrough record Unsilent Death. The 2013, 7” Obscene Humanity contains “Obscene Humanity,” “Comfort Them,” and “Lies. ” While the songs are classics that fans have heard before, the way they are treated is not about presenting them as anything new, but rather demonstrating a shift in perspective, an attempt to re-cast and re-contextualize some of Nails‘ best early work.
One of the defining features of Obscene Humanity is more of an emphasis on a raw, live-off-the-floor energy. This is most present in the pummelling forward drive and momentum Nails have imbued into the tracks, and the slightly more crackling and unhinged vocal performance from Todd Jones. The production, however, is more full and crisp, which serves the drumming in particular extremely well. The overall effect is thunderous, while the individual blows remain clear and precise. Nails clearly see that revisiting these tracks allows them to ratchet up the intensity, torquing the songs to become more finely tuned. They are also able to instill some grind-influenced violence into the pace and ferocity, and some crusty tones into the already swollen guitars. “Lies” is unquestionably the highlight, a huge and furious dirge that swings between outraged mourning, wallowing in filth and itching for a fight.
The most obvious flaw to the record is simply an innate part of its structure: these tracks are not new, so Obscene Humanity is all about slight, subtle refinement, and offered up as a palate cleanser before their next full-length offering. It’s a bit of a tease in that sense, and with that comes a sense of itchy frustration. Obscene Humanity admirably succeeds in making the listener hungry for more, new material, and in that is does exactly what it sets out to: increase the desire for Abandon All Life to a fever-pitch.