Nailbomb: Point blank
27/07/09 || Habakuk
There was a time when Max Cavalera stood for 4-instead-of-6-stringed heaviness, weird English and, well, Sepultura. And Sepultura stood for kick ass thrash metal. Then came a time when he moved away from the classic shit, colored his hair and started experimenting. And if that would have ended with Nailbomb in 1994, no-one would have minded. I mean, I even find Soulfly listenable at times, but deep down in our inner self, we all know that in whatever way we try to disguise it, the old stuff will always be better. Right? Right. So, in 1994, pink-haired Mad Max teamed up with some guy called Alex Newport from the legendary Fudge Tunnel (who?), invited a couple of guest musicians , they secured themselves the best band name ever and put together this attempt at industrialized, stripped-down thrash metal.
7. Max never was a Riffmeister, but he knew how to put together some decent songs. Now when he could basically do whatever he wanted on here, it actually got a lot more basic than anything Sepultura had ever done before. Well then it’s Soulfly, isn’t it? It isn’t, because this sounds like a collection of factory robots kicking you in da fucken face instead of a collection of ethnic minorities jumping da fuck up and da fuck down again. The songs are mostly mid-paced, simple in structure, effect- and sample-laden and held together by some mean chugging riffs, mechanical drumming and two guys destroying their throats. Some songs are punkish speed freakouts which actually take a lot more effect due to the slower songs, and vice versa those gain in intensity thanks to some well-timed tempo and groove changes between the songs. During the individual songs however, the pace almost never shifts. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Unless you have ADD. For the record, there’s also a cover of Doom’s “Exploitation”, but it fits so well I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t been told.
10. Industrializing metal guitars almost always produces a bad-ass sound. It even works with Rammstein, and they’re not particularly great. And while that’s not true for Nailbomb, still one of the best things about “Point blank” is its devastatingly heavy sound. The guitars and the discernible bass together form a crushing riff juggernaut, and great ideas like “Religious cancer”‘s main riff that the two guitars trade back and forth between each other on two channels fit perfectly into the industrial atmosphere. So do the just slightly distorted vocals and the drums that profit from a loud, balanced and aggressive sound.
8. The guitars are tuned down to D, have a deep, crunchy and dry tone that is almost too good to be true and too heavy to cross the bridge to Shitsville, so they take a long detour around that. Its lucky inhabitants now don’t have to be worried about nail bombs, unlike the rest of the world how can instead delight themselves on the simplistic thrashing and hardcore punk-like riffs delivered by the various gentlemen on this disc. Worth the risk, I’d say. Only a few leads and solos are to be found, but they’re nothing too special. It’s all about the rhythm guitars, and those absolutely slay.
9. Vocal duties are evenly split between Max Cavalera and Alex Newport, and both give their best pissed at the world-expression. Max Cavalera always sounds pissed at the world, so that’s a given, but Newport’s vocals are a worthy addition ranging from whispering to desperate shouting and distorted cries that sound like he’s choking. All the vocals are more or less heavily processed to work better with the mechanical sound of the album and the outcome speaks for itself. Great stuff all around. In addition, a lot of vocal samples can be heard throughout the album, from stock exchange news (“279 Dollars…”) to a priest (“confess…before Jesus!”) and are a major contrasting element especially of the slower tracks like “Religious Cancer” and “World of Shit”.
9. A treble-heavy distortion rumbling that is equally as important to the overall sound as the guitars, backing vocal lines on its own like in “World of Shit” or “Zero Tolerance” as well as adding extra punch to the already crushing guitars. It’s not like the bass does anything extraordinary, it’s just ever-present in its nasty glory and accounts for a huge chunk of Nailbomb’s heaviness.
8. Partly executed by Igor Cavalera and a drum computer, the drums are a strong element on “Point blank”. As always, the younger Cavalera brother shows a flawless performance, but except for the faster, more punkish songs, the drums are not supposed to sound all too natural and are therefore taken over by the drum machine. Furthermore, they’re enhanced by percussion samples like the rhythmic gunshots in the beginning of “Cockroaches”. For the most part, these aren’t on for too long, but leave a lasting industrial impression together with the robotically forward-stomping drum work.
8. No Gods no masters, Religious cancer! It is beyond me how the same dude started to go with I believe in God lyrics a few years later. Anyway, “Point blank” is packed with authority-hating, non-conformist, anti-mainstream culture lyrics that suit Cavalera’s simple polemics perfectly.
“Never learn, never learn
Have to be part of something
Never learn, never learn
Follow the leader you’ve fit in
Where’s your thoughts
Where’s your mind
Blind and lost
Never think, never think
Have to be just like they are
Never think, never think
It’s alright, give up your life”
8. Fitting their anti-commercial theme, they went for some punk imagery here. The cover shows a black and white photograph of a Vietnamese woman in the Vietnam war with a rifle pointed at her head. Provocative and explicit, it doesn’t need any “real” violence to get its point across.
7. ‘Nailbomb’ written in A-Team/Army letters. It’s a cool font and it looks good on the picture.
8. Lyrics on what looks like the actual paper sheets they were written on including changes, scribbling and so forth. An interesting insight into the songwriting and somehow suitable for a short-term project.
Overall and ending rant
Smart move to only release one album that secured them their classic status and then call it quits, but that probably sounds easier than it is. Nailbomb’s among the best outcomes of the genre-shifting in the middle of the nineties. The project is as far away from “sell-out” or mainstreamed sound as it gets, but rather a creative, different and professionally executed way of extending the genre boundaries. If you’re into heavy music, there are very, very few excuses not to check this out. You can think of Max Cavalera what you like, but he’s doing his thing, and he’s doing it all the way. If only his thing of today were more like Nailbomb.
- Released: 1994
- Label: Roadrunner
- Website: Nailbomb MySpace
- Max Cavalera: vocals, guitars, bass, samples
- Alex Newport: vocals, guitars, bass, samples
- Ritchie Bujnowski: guitars
- Andreas Kisser: guitars
- Dino Cazares: guitars
- Igor Cavalera: drums
- 01. Wasting away
- 02. Vai tomá no cu
- 03. 24 hour bullshit
- 04. Guerillas
- 05. Blind and lost
- 06. Sum of your achievements
- 07. Cockroaches
- 08. For fuck’s sake
- 09. World of shit
- 10. Exploitation
- 11. Religious cancer
- 12. Shit Piñata
- 13. Sick life