NAILS "Abandon All Life"

BAPTISTS "Bushcraft"

By Dr. Abner Mality

At this point, I'm ready to say Southern Lord should be considered as a hardcore label and nothing else. Long gone are the days when it was considered a mecca for doom metal or primitive black metal. The label has scooped up just about every angry, bare bones hardcore band that has made a ruckus in the US. I personally miss the more diverse days of Southern Lord, but two of the loudest and angriest of their recent hardcore discoveries are Nails and Baptists.

Nails is friggin' SICK!  These guys are a real kick in the gut, like a modern equivalent of what Poison Idea used to do back in the day. Only amplify the hate and heaviness even beyond what Pig and the boys used to spew. "Abandon All Life" is ridiculously hateful, brutally short and about as merciless as a hitman for the Zetas drug cartel. No artifice or fancy production compares with labelmates Kromosom and is far more vitriolic than other Southern Lord bands such as Wartorn and Enabler. The tracks here range from lightning-quick bursts of noise to slower, more drawn out and more punishing tunes like the grinding "Suum Cuique" and "Wide Open Wound". It's the contrast between fast and short and long and painful that makes "Abandon All Life" worth the pickup despite its ridiculous running time. This is hardcore at its hardest.

Baptists are pretty pissed, too, but they take a different tack on their full-length debut "Bushcraft", which sports a cool, almost black metal looking cover. The anger is certainly present, but these guys seem to draw more fire from the noisy alternative scene of the early 90's than typical hardcore. There's an odd twang and jangle to "Soiled Roots", "Abandon" and the title track that makes these guys a wee bit different. Remember the Northwest noise squad Black Elk? That's the kind of territory Baptists are working. Frankly, I like Nails better, because 90's alt-rock was much an acquired taste for me, but you may have a different opinion, sailor. When it comes to sheer knee-buckling rage, Nails is the band, but Baptists have their appeal as well.