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Nailwork is by no means a great album, and I don't listen to it much, and yet I remember it much better than many albums which I would say are indisputably superior. It's not easy to pin down exactly what makes this unique, but I'll try.
Since this is melodic death metal, let's begin with the guitars. The riffing is typical melodic death metal, but not overly saccharine, and with ample aggression. These aren't particularly generic riffs, but they're not overly imaginative, either. They tend to have odd flourishes and occasional bursts of technicality. What makes them really weird, though, is the way they're strung together; the band never really seems to repeat a riff much, and the guitars are always shifting, but you don't get the feeling that they're doing so all the time, because the overall effect, when combined with the drumming and vocals, is to create a shifting, uncomfortable experience that refuses to let you get into it. Night in Gales don't want you to bang your head to this; many of these riffs are perfectly headbangable, but they're used in such away as to make headbanging impossible. It's worth noting that while the riffs are structured quite normally, it often feels like there's something off about the melodies, like they moved some notes around or something; they sound like melodies that could be nice, but clearly aren't.
Next up: the vocals. The vocal performance on this album is quite dynamic, shifting between the standard rasp, a more strangled high rasp, a slightly deeper growl, deep clean singing, and higher clean singing. If you're thinking this probably sounds confusing, you'd be right, although it's generally pretty fitting. The harsh vocals are fairly emotionless, occasionally sounding a bit pissed off, but the clean vocals sound mournful, leaving the listener somewhat confused as to how to interpret the lyrics. The lyrics and artwork used here are probably the most interesting element of the whole package. The artwork depicts sharp things, such as razors, nails, scissors, etc. The lyrics make heavy use of weird portmanteaus such as "sunfuckcroons." The lyrics are heavily abstract. I can't be bothered to analyze each song, but I looked through them and noticed a lot of references to sharp objects, feminine sexuality, and throats; make your own conclusions. There's certainly no "I'ma cut you bitch" on here, but I find this far creepier and more interesting, like the poetry of an aspiring murderer. In combination with the weird riffing and song-structuring, we have a genuinely weird album here.
There's not a whole lot to say about the drumming; it's pretty typical. Not a whole lot of blast beats, but never seems to stray too far from standard metal drumming, which works fine given the fairly standard nature of the riffing. The bass is not heard much at all, which is fine. The production is bland, almost sterile, which again fits with the slightly off music and creepy lyrical and vocal approach to create a really unsettling album.
So; what we have here is, to me at least, quite unique. But...is it good? Frankly, no, not really. The song-structures prevent any of the riffs from becoming really memorable, the melodies are uncatchy, and there's really just not much to get into. You can get this really cheap, so if you're interested in a weird melodic death metal experience you can try it (I wouldn't recommend downloading, since to get the full experience you need the booklet) (and also, downloading is illegal you naughty naughty pirate you). If you're looking for catchy melodic death metal (or badass melodic death metal, for that matter), keep looking.
'Nailwork' is the melodic death metal answer to 'Stomp 442'- that is, it's an item that the metal scene is flooded with copies of that no one will buy. It's fairly understandable; it's unremarkable melodic death metal that, while not horrible, certainly isn't something people would ever probably seek out. It's second stage Gothenburg, you know, not totally agonizing lead guitar all the time, but with a bit of rock influence and more 'Heartwork' than 'The Gallery'. It's not bad, but it's nothing I'd really listen to regularly either.
What's there to even say about this? It's just straightforward, relatively modern melodic death metal. Riffs are mostly based on tremolo or strummed palm muting patterns, melodic or chugging alternately. There's the occasional fiery solo and the riffwork is, if not fascinating, good enough for the purposes of the songs. Vocals are a raspy mid-ranged melodeath growl with some sporadic clean singing during the choruses. Drumming is fast and accurate and bass is inaudible. Production is clear and typical for the genre. It was released on Nuclear Blast and it sounds like it.
The closest thing to unique that Night In Gales ever gets to is in the lyrical department, which is admittedly kind of cool and interesting. The subjects are pretty murky and a lot of the lyrics seem to be nothing more than strings of abstract imagery. The most obviously different thing is that there are huge numbers of one-off portmanteaus used throughout the lyrics which help give it a bit of an interesting feel when read, though you can't tell anything as really being different when they're sung. I guess it's a pretty cool set of lyrics to look over that goes for an interesting writing technique that I haven't seen before, but I don't really listen to metal for the lyrics. As just poetry, though, they're readable and interesting enough to warrant a look.
It's just plain melodic death metal apart from the lyrics though. If you like that kind of thing you'll like this, if not you won't. It adheres to pretty much all of the genre conventions and doesn't really have anything to recommend for or against it. I got it for $3 so it's hard to be disappointed, and your copy will probably cost the same, so just grab one.