As anyone who has ever bought a CD or read a review on Pitchfork will tell you, a review without a score is a total bag of bullshit. How are you, how are we, as fans of musical craftsmanship, supposed to know how good something is based purely on words? Without that number at the bottom, how on earth are we expected to be able to form an opinion? More importantly, how will Metacritic be able to take what we say and boil it down to some nonsensical average that nobody understands and everybody hates?! It’s a madness. This is why, starting from today, we will be implementing a numerical scoring system to any future reviews on Tight To The Nail. But this won’t be like any old regular numerical system. No. We will be attributing a score, marked out of a total of 5, using the value of Lars.
Before we begin : a note about decimal points
We won’t ever be adding a decimal point following a mark out of Lars because, frankly, what a load of fucking shit that is. When you can explain to us what causes a grindcore record to score a 7.4 instead of a 7.5, we will happily drink a pint of bleach and piss in celebration. Our Mark of Lars Scoring System, or MoLSS for short, should be strong enough in and of itself to never need to rely on a decimal point. Also, you can’t fracture Lars and distribute him by decimal amounts. He’s too powerful. And anyway, decimal points are for maths losers. Are you a maths loser?
THE NEW SYSTEM, EXPLAINED!
5 Lars out of 5
Top marks! Full House! The whole shebang! When a record is awarded the highly coveted 5 Lars out of 5, you know that it’s time you stopped your yabbering and slapped some money down straight away. At the very least you’ll want to open up uTorrent or see if some pleb has stuck it on Mediafire. This will be a record of such impeccable quality that it will quite literally change your life and the lives of the people around you. Things will never be the same again.
4 Lars out of 5
One less than 5 Lars out of 5. A record that reaches for greatness and almost touches it but somehow fucks up something so fundamental that it manages to tarnish the whole experience, a bit like when they don’t put salt on the fries in McDonalds. Tight To The Nail wishes to make it clear that we will happily accept monetary bribes in order to raise a score from a 4 Lars to the highly respected 5 Lars. Because good luck attaining any form of respect if you are anything less than perfect.
3 Lars out of 5
Erm… not really sure about this one. Kind of just … in the middle. For records that score this, maybe just pretend you’ve heard it and then tell people it’s shit / incredible depending on how many fav’s the tweet will get.
2 Lars out of 5
So close to the gutter that you can almost taste the filth, but at least we can tell that they’re trying. Usually applied as a pity score to generic powerviolence bands from Ohio and metalcore bands signed to BSM with names like Caution Horses, because somebody has to feel sorry for them. And if we can’t be bothered to write about them, who the heck will?
1 Lars out of 5
Genuinely offensive, but not in the good Profound Lore way, more in the Emmure please-fall-into-a-pit-of-human-shit-please-Frankie way. Integrity is at the forefront of the new TTTN review system, but with that said, and as with the 5 out of 5, we are open to financial contributions so that we award a band of your choosing with a 1 Lars so that you can tarnish the musical reputation of your enemies. Don’t ever expect to earn big $$$ once we’ve slapped you with a 1 Lars. Oh boy!
So there we go. A new revolutionary system, put into place to help you, the consumer. We hope that this clears everything up! See you on the other side, folks! That is, if the other side is where all the sweet reviews are!
No more arguments, please :
1. Rock And Roll Killing Machine
2. Still Loves You
3. How They Light Cigarettes In Prison
4. Don't Push Us When We're Hot
5. Busy Signal At The Suicide Hotline
Now let that be the end of it.
Hello, dear reader. Thanks for continuing to come back here, despite the fact that fuck all is going on.
As you may have read, I won’t be updating this site with new features, reviews and recommendations. But I am still writing for a number of places like Cvlt Nation, Corehammer and Broken Amp. The easiest way to keep up with new stuff I done is to go to either of the following two places and like and/or follow. That way, you’ll see links to bullshit that I’ve coughed up onto the internet. Click those logos, babes.
If that’s not direct enough, here’s links to my archives on the sites that I just mentioned up there;
CVLT NATION || COREHAMMER || BROKEN AMP
If you still want to get in touch about music you want me to check out that I could end up featuring on any of the above sites, get in touch, yo.
Don’t forget, there’s a whole friggin’ bunch of stuff still right here too, so browse the archives that you can see to your left and maybe discover your new favorite shitty punk band.
Also, you can still download the digital samplers that we released for free from the TTTN Bandcamp. Literally hundreds of tracks. A whirlwind of obnoxious noise, completely free. You want a link?
There. That should do it.
I wrote a review of Seizure’s exceptional The Sanity Universal LP for CVLT NATION
read the full thing here
It’s entirely appropriate that the cover art of Seizures’ The Sanity Universal features an image of a densely populated galaxy. An infinite system of stars, bound by interstellar gases, held in place by gravity – that most humbling of forces. Gaze at it for too long, lose yourself in the sheer scale of it, and you can almost feel yourself being crushed under the immense weight. It’s a perfect allegory for Seizures’ second LP; a stunning piece of work that is incredibly vast, totally overpowering and almost impossible to quantify…..
After almost 4 years of writing content for Tight To The Nail, it’s with a heavy heart that I announce a hiatus. There’s various reasons, none of which I’ll bore you with, but for the foreseeable future I’m drawing the curtain on my little corner of the Internet. The existing content won’t be going anywhere, there’ll just be nothing new added.
It’s been excellent. I met some awesome people, made some great friends and encountered a fair few dickheads too. Just like real life.
I’ll still be about on Twitter and Instagram and all that stuff, so that aspect of TTTN won’t change. But until next time, PEACE.
CORRUPT MORAL ALTAR – MECHANICAL TIDES (Season Of Mist)
It takes a grind band with balls the size of planets to slow things down in the middle of their debut LP and belt out a slow paced, clean sung ballad. But clearly, Liverpool’s Corrupt Moral Altar do not give one single fuck and proceed to do just that; the majestic, monolithic ‘Admit Defeat’ seeing them take a break from pummeling at your head and instead taking aim for your heart. And, in what’s perhaps the first instance of a grindcore band achieving something genuinely touching, by God: it works. Oh, did I mention that it’s grind legend Mitch Harris on vocal duties for this track?
Yes, Corrupt Moral Altar are far from lacking in ambition with Mechanical Tides, their latest installment of devastating ferocity following two EP’s in the space of a year since their formation. The progressive melodic elements captured on ‘Admit Defeat’ are really just the icing on a super-heavy cake; these madmen from Merseyside pull no punches and deliver a densely layered, immaculately constructed and forward-thinking lesson in razor-sharp grind and serrating metallic brutality. From the unsettling insectoid synths that bubble behind the anti-anthem of ‘Blood Harmony’ to the Jane Doe-esque headbanger of ‘Garland Greene’ and out through the city-levelling bluster as finale ‘Insect Politicians’ closes out, it’s a record that constantly surpises, impresses and destroys in equal measure. Really quite phenomenal.
Available from Season Of Mist
IDYLLS – PRAYER FOR TERRENE (Tapes Of A Neon God)
Around 90 seconds into opening track ‘Lied To’, Idylls have already cranked the intensity to such a level that it’s hard to imagine where they’ll take it from there. Given that there’s still just under 6 minutes to go until they’re done with the opening salvo to their second LP Prayer For Terrene, it’s no small feat that they continually build the anxiety and the volume to the point where it feels like your skull will cave in and your brain/eyes/hair will leak out through your slack jaw in a congealed mess. And you’re still only at the 4 minute mark.
Yes, as you may have gathered: Idylls are exhaustingly rapacious and, yes, it’s tempting to go on and just list the ways: (how ‘Sow Control’ bursts into life and smears your nose across your face, how the absurdly elastic bass line of ‘Pay With Youth’ rearranges your motor skills, how ‘Crashing Boar’ sounds like a schizophrenic cover of ‘Surfin’ Bird’) but hopefully all I’ll need to say is that listening to this record is about as pleasant as holding your genitals against the spinning wheels of a dirtbike and you’ll run off and buy it and torture your ears into oblivion. Astonishingly ferocious stuff, and completely brilliant.
Available from Tapes Of A Neon God
EMPTINESS – NOTHING BUT THE WHOLE (Dark Descent)
Written by Dean Brown
It’s interesting that while Enthroned ride the second wave (ir)religiously, Emptiness, who share two members with this Flemish horde, look to the inky-black void of the abstract for impetus.
That’s not to say Emptiness’s fourth full-length and second consecutive album for Dark Descent, ‘Nothing But the Whole’, is so challenging that you will float aimlessly while trying to find a foothold, however. ‘Nothing But the Whole’, while expressing non-linear ideas throughout its seven songs, is centred by its coiled yet characteristic structures and compelling song-craft, all of which circumvent the confines of death and black metal to spawn something special in the process.
The use of tension and unexpected release is paramount to the album’s uniqueness, but so too are other nuances, such as the band’s keen use of repetition and expansive textures and atmosphere. Absorb all of this together and once an understanding begins to manifest, only then does Emptiness’s philosophy for perverting conventions fully proclaim itself.
Available from Dark Descent Records
OBSTACLE – s/t (Footloose Records)
And so the proliferation of honest, no-frills, homegrown hardcore continues. Dublin’s Obstacle offer up a rigorous powerviolence clobbering, but it’s not just their solidly strict adherence to formula that marks them out as a band worth your time, it’s the little tweaks and smart touches they sprinkle throughout that grants them that distinction.
Borrowing elements from the both the east and west coasts of America (Boston’s guttural Mind Eraser and LA’s grim Despise You are both owed a debt) as well as featruing a traditional post millenium UKHC stomp (think Dirty Money), Obstacle wear their influences clearly for all to see, but they’re not afraid to add their own spin to things. ‘Nothing’ is a short, atmospheric reprieve, and it’s uncommon for a young HC band to allow themselves the room to breathe out and add such dynamics to a debut release. Props to them, because it works; injecting a sense of despair and misery that elevates (or rather, sinks) their material.
It’s not too often that a HC band can find enough to say spread across a full length, but if this debut EP is anything to go on, and if Obstacle can refine and fully develop their talent for creating an atmosphere, then hearing them play about with that with more running time and a bit more experience under their belt is a tantalizing prospect indeed.
Available to pre-order now from Footloose Records
Harder than a cage fighter with two Rottweilers strapped to each arm and wearing a shark as a backpack, Feeding Chain are yet another fine addition to the growing pantheon of South-UK hardcore bands that sound like they want to kick your teeth down your neck and out your arse. Yes, Feeding Chain are, to use modern parlance, tasty as fuck. Featuring members of various deceased hardcore bands that have stomped the stage over the past few years (Cold Snap, Wayfarer and even Out Of Hand if you can remember back that far) and cross-pollinating with current mosh-bringers Ego Trip and xRepentancex, Feeding Chain are a band that do not fuck about in delivering their message. The message? Get the fuck outta the way.
Their influences are on their blood-soaked sleeve; the pure audio contempt of Think I Care and the murderous Boston stomp of Mind Eraser are primary factors, and Feeding Chain deliver it with a clean, punchy clarity that’ll knock you on your arse and send your poser hat flying off and into the gutter. The term ‘real deal‘ is banded about a lot these days, awash as we are with a lot of fraudulent macho posturing, and although I can personally vouch that a number of their crew are thoroughly nice dudes, it’s clear that once they’re in a studio with amps plugged in, they’re channeling something murderous and very, very real.
The 5 tracks here (4 original, one cover) never push past the 90 second mark but leave indents on the skull such is the force of their delivery. The vocals are projected from that little hollow at the back of throat just behind the tonsils; sounding choked, thick and full of venom. No lung-draining theatrics, just teeth-gnashing fury. Opening track ‘Binge’ sets the dual-tempos; breakneck violent speeds or mid-pace Neanderthal pounding. This sort of quick switching between the two conjures up images of mosh-pit apocalypse, and the closing seconds of ‘Lung Matter’ offer up a contender for Most Dangerous Stomp of 2014. Closing the EP with a classic cover, It’s a testament to the virility of Youth Of Today’s ‘Can’t Close My Eyes’ that re-recorded here nearly 30 years later it still sounds as vital and dangerous as ever; Feeding Chain adding in a level of disturbing threat that wasn’t quite there in the original and re-tooling it’s message for a new generation.
A succinct and economic hardcore smack in the chops, and one that we’re all better off with.
Available now from the Feeding Chain Bandcamp.
Are we alone in the universe? Did life really originate from deep sea vents? Why don’t some people appreciate True Detective? Life is full of important questions that have left mankind forever searching for the answers. One such problem that has the
worlds leading scientists me lying awake at night is Are Limp Bizkit Shit Or Not.
While it’s easy to shout out a resounding “YES” in answer to this question, I believe that this topic deserves more thought. I believe this because I would like to be reassured that I didn’t spend a good chunk of my young manhood listening to what is possibly one of the worst metal bands to have existed in my time on earth. I also believe this because it’s my website and I can do whatever I want.
The system is simple: one at a time, I shall take a cold, hard look at each Limp Bizkit release (initial demo and studio LP’s only) and rate each one as SHIT or NOT SHIT. Then, adding these results using the power of maths, we shall work out a final score of either SHIT or NOT SHIT. What could go wrong?
So join me in Part 1 as I attempt to clarify, once and for all, whether Limp Bizkit are, as I say, shit or not shit.
MENTAL AQUADUCTS (1995 Demo)
As with any serious analysis such as this, the most important place to start is at the beginning. And by the beginning, I mean ‘shitty demo’. Before Fred and his pals assaulted spellchecks everywhere with Limp Bizkit, they dallied with the alternative name of Limp Biscut and self released the Mental Aquaducts demo in 1995. I think we can all agree that the name change was for the better because nothing says pre-millennium edginess like a Z for an S. Anyway, demos will forever fall into two camps. Camp one is the ‘rough but very, very promising’ camp and camp two is the ‘really rather embarrassing camp’. The Bizkit/Biscut’s first foray into the recording studio is a little bit of both.
Interestingly (or, worryingly) there really isn’t a whole lot of difference between this band in 1995 and the band today. Wes Borland was yet to join, so the guitar work is nowhere near as evocative as they’d come to incorporate, but for the most part, it’s business as usual; if a little blunt and unrefined. Durst still has the innate ability to veer between impressive vocalist and irritating child, the heavy parts have a hell of a lot of bounce and the dreamy-teenage angst-hip hop is in full effect and sounds alright despite being more dated than a Spiderman comic from 1967. That said, there is literally no reason to listen to it. Even if ‘Armpit’ does open with the line “I seen ya sniffin’ on my armpit”. A lyric to rival anything that is to come.
THREE DOLLAR BILL, Y’ALL$ (1997)
AKA ‘the one it’s ok to like’. Limp Bizkit ended up becoming a lot of things (an embarrassing parody of themselves, to jump the gun and name but one) and their debut LP certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s hard to deny that what’s captured here is an honest and searing snapshot of a young band operating at full throttle. It isn’t without it’s share of problems though; the most serious of all being the woefully incompetent way that this LP is structured. It starts with a bang (the thundering Pollution, the quintessential nu-rap-metal anthem Counterfeit) but gets bogged down by the 6 minute melancholic jam of Stalemate and plummets downhill from there with the cringeworthy cover of George Michael’s Faith, the self congratulatory ‘shout out’ of Indigo Ranch and the snooze-fest psych-jam outro of Everything.
It’s a shame, because had the either the band or producer Ross Robinson shown some restraint, this could’ve been a tight, 10 track monster instead of feeling bloated and weighed down with filler. Durst’s voice could’ve done with some reigning in at this stage too, and had it been it might not have become quite the mess it is now. His power behind the mic when he’s screaming his guts out sees him stand out as one of the best in his field, but his parade of other quirks is grating even at this early stage. ‘Unhinged’ might have been what they were aiming for, but he just sounds like a man in desperate need of direction from his producer, lost in a fog of silly voices and polar-opposite vocal stylings.
Despite all of this though, Three Dollar Bill still holds up to this day. The abundance of energy captured when they get it right is undeniable and allows them to breathe fresh life into old sounds cribbed from their influences and sees them sounding every bit like young men genuinely losing their shit in the studio, hopped up on creativity. If you remain unconvinced, listen to Clunk to hear them firing on all cylinders and watch out for the seamless and really quite excellent way that they switch a battering, downtuned grove into a noodling hip hop cool-down. Worth listening to that one just to hear how scarily auto-biographical Durst’s mid-point rap has become.
SIGNIFICANT OTHER (1999)
Right. Ok. I thought that they were going to make this easier on themselves… Frankly, this record is a wash out. I haven’t fully listened to Significant Other, their eagerly anticipated (at the time) follow up to 3DBy’all$ (my acronym, you can use it), for at least 10 years and to be honest with you, I thought that this would have held up a lot better than it has. But before I wade through this record’s problems, it’s important to point out one huge distinction: Significant Other contains what is unarguably Limp Bizkit’s greatest song.
Don’t Go Off Wandering is their finest moment on record; an honest, touching and impeccably written piece of work that tugs at the heart and makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Yes, I am still talking about Limp Bizkit. All preposterousness is wiped away, Durst’s lyrics are actually about something that feels real, Borland’s guitar work and the way it coils around River’s noodling bassline is inspired and, somehow, incredibly, Durst’s voice sounds exceptional. It’s not often that Bizkit can drop the pace and not make you want to fall asleep or die or something but Don’t Go Off Wandering is one for the ages. Honest. Give it a go.
The rest though? Almost total guff. Sure, sure; it’s as heavy as a box of metal cocks in places, it bounces and grooves like a mother and the production is tight but … man… the songs are about nothing. Just Like This is basically Durst talking about his own band and naked girls, Nookie is an embarrassing ode to sex with such a terrible chorus that’s it’s shocking when you think that 5 people got together and wrote it and Show Me What You Got is literally just Durst listing American States. An obligatory ‘pure hip hop’ track with an uninspired guest spot from Method Man (it’s quite a feat to make Meth sound dull), a 7 minute outro of celebrities talking about Limp Bizkit and more lyrical dead ends than should be allowed (“time is something that may change me, but I can’t change time, so fuck it“). Self indulgent just doesn’t come close. There are no ideas here. None.
Thing is though, Don’t Go Off Wandering is such a good track that it get this record a pass. Significant Other, saved. By one song.
So then, so far so good. Kinda. Discounting the demo, Limp Bizkit are 2 for 2. Counting the demo, they’re … er … 2.5 for 3. It’s going ok. So far. But with the release of Chocolate Starfish & The Hot Dog Flavoured Water (fucks sake, that title) the tide is about to turn. Part 2 coming soon.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Imagine you walk into a room you’ve never been into before. Picture that scene. Are you picturing it? As you walk through the door and flick on the light switch, a hand reaches out of the darkness and slaps you in the mouth. That, I’m sure you’ll agree, would suck. You wouldn’t even think about walking further into that room. You would go home and you might even write a letter of complaint. But imagine you walk in and instead of a slap, that very same hand smooths your hair back and then hands you a tasty sandwich. That would be awesome, wouldn’t it? You’d walk into that room and probably stay there for some time, hoping for a second sandwich or maybe even a cake. This has been a metaphor for how first impressions count. So, without further ado, here’s some of the best first impressions that metal, punk and hardcore have ever made. A list of the best opening lyrics to a whole load of records, if you’re not still not sure.
BLACK SABBATH – WAR PIGS (Paranoid, 1970)
Something that will be hard to avoid repeating as we move through this list is not only how these opening lyrics are officially Cool As Balls but how they often do a perfect job of setting the mood and the tone for what follows. What better place to start then, than with the band who set the mood and the tone of metal as a whole for generations to come. Ozzy’s opening proclamation, delivered with his unmistakable voice, of “Generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses” is, to this day, the most deliciously perfect way to kick off a heavy metal LP that it’s no wonder that those 4 blokes from Birmingham literally changed everything. Anti-war messages wrapped up in occult analogies? *bangs head*
EVERY TIME I DIE – ROMEO A GO GO (Hot Damn, 2003)
Seeing as Every Time I Die’s sophomore LP Hot Damn has more restless, kinetic energy than a speed addict shot into space on the back of a monkey, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting opening line than Keith Buckley’s roar of “tonight I’m coming home in a coma if it fucking kills me”. It’s possibly the most badass line on his entire list and it’s so good I almost don’t need to carry on. Backed by a tumble of drums, a squeal of guitar feedback and delivered with such honest, searing desperation that it feels more like a threat than a statement, if this LP only amounted to these 5 seconds it would still be among the best of its kind.
BEHEMOTH – BLOW YOUR TRUMPETS GABRIEL (The Satanist, 2014)
How do Behemoth, the masters of battering, none-more-satanic metal, open this years return-to-glory LP following life threatening personal trauma and years out of the spotlight? By growling the line “I saw the virgins cunt spawning forth the snake”, that’s how. I don’t really need to say anymore here, do I?
SS DECONTROL – BOILING POINT (The Kids Will Have Their Say, 1982)
Back in the early 80’s, the 1st wave of US hardcore bands were in possession of two things that would become the essential ingredients of any decent hardcore that would follow. Firstly, an as-yet-unheard-of level of dissatisfaction and aggression. Second, an admirable sense of economy. LP’s were short, lyrics were blunt and everything hit like a brick to the chin. Just how you want it. SS Decontrol are a shining example of how no-frills hardcore should be done and their LP The Kids Will Have Their say is a crash course that any new HC band should study with dedication. There’s no smart-ass wordplay here, just what you need to know. And as Dave ‘Springa’ Spring breathlessly shouts “I’ve kept it bottled up for years / Instead of fighting or shedding tears / Now it’s time to let it go / My boiling point’s about to show” you know that they’ve had enough, they’re not gonna fucking take it and that they absolutely fucking well mean it. Hardcore 101.
IRON MONKEY – FINK DIAL (Iron Monkey, 1997)
Anyone who’s listened to Iron Monkey will, of course, have heard Johnny Morrow’s vocals. And anyone who’s heard Johnny Morrow’s vocals will know that none of us have a frigging clue what he’s saying. So the opening line to the first song on Iron Monkey’s debut LP is possibly more about how he says it than what he says. Morrow was constantly dancing the line between violence, sex, social comment and outright horror and by opening Fink Dial with the bewildering “gas disease machine, cunt-fraud, deaths during rock magic, fetered arms reach for blackened penis”, he pretty much sets his stall out and shows you everything all in one breath. It also introduced us to perhaps the most terrifying noise that England has ever produced. His vocal chords were truly a sound unlike any other.
MASTODON – BLOOD AND THUNDER (Leviathan, 2004)
“I THINK THAT SOMEONE IS TRYING TO KILL ME”. Fuck, it can’t get any cooler than that, can it? Oh, what? The LP is a concept album based on Captain Ahab’s legendary pursuit of Moby Dick? Apparently it can. If you don’t hear that introductory bellow and want to punch a sea-beast in its face then I think you need to have a word with yourself.
TRAP THEM – INSOMNIAWESOME (Sleepwell Deconstructor, 2007)
Trap Them sound disgusting. Rank. Filthy. If you scraped around the inside of an old truck’s oil tank that had been submerged in a tar pit for a decade and then wiped that gunk across your teeth, you’re close to how dirty you feel when you listen to their debut LP Sleepwell Deconstructor. Their sound may have been copied to the point where Trap Them-core is close to existing, but nobody does it better. So, how does a new band capture that inherent sense of depravation within a single sentence? By screaming, as inhumanly as possible, the words “PUT ON YOUR MAAAAAASK” over the most ugly feedback you’ll ever hear. Never has an invitation into darkness sounded so genuine and disturbing.
SLIPKNOT – DISASTERPIECE (Iowa, 2001)
It’s no secret that, since their 2nd LP Iowa, Slipknot have been responsible for releasing some material that any right minded metal band should be embarrassed about. It’s also no secret that Corey Taylor’s lyrics more often than not leave a lot to be desired; clunky ‘woe is me / I hate you’ mopings that would be more at home in a teenagers diary than in a supposedly balls-out metal song. But all of this cannot hide the fact that they open ‘Disasterpiece’ with the lyric “I wanna slit your throat and fuck the wound”
I want to slit your throat. And fuck. The wound.
Ok, so it’s not the opening line to the LP because it’s actually the third track on Iowa, but honestly, how can we ignore that one?
INTEGRITY – VOCAL TEST (Humanity Is The Devil, 1996)