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Brilliant Comeback - 90%

raoulduke25, May 15th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Divebomb Records

The classic eighties USPM act Intrinsic have come back to put out their first album in nearly two decades. And it's a pretty serious effort too. It's quite a whopper of an album, clocking in at more than twice the length of their debut, featuring plenty of original songs as well as a Led Zeppelin cover, an instrumental, and at least a couple of tracks that – whilst quite good in their own right – probably don't really even qualify as metal songs. The majority of the songs definitely are in the same camp with their earlier works, but this album is still all over the place when it comes to the vast number of styles represented. It's one of the starkest examples I have heard of a band going in several different directions and still managing to put out some quality work.

The sound is definitely more polished on this album compared to their earlier ones, as they have moved away from their rawer roots and have now embraced a bit more modern sound. The songs come across with a very strong and amped-up Fates Warning vibe, complete with all the infectious hooks you could hope for laid nicely over a smorgasbord of fast and proggy guitar riffs. But that's hardly the whole story with this album. The Fates Warning influence is certainly strong on a good number of the tracks, but then you get songs that are so unique that they don't fit nicely into any category. “Mourn For Her” is one such piece that, if heard by itself apart from this album, one would probably classify as easy listening jazz rock. Sure, lots of metal albums have a slow acoustic song thrown in the mix, but this is nothing like any other token softie I have ever heard. And even though the guitar chords and basslines sound like outtakes from a Steely Dan recording session, the song doesn't feel out of place at all, and fits nicely with the overall arc of the album.

Two of the highlight tracks are “Vicious Circle” and “Pillar of Fire” which don't really capture the Fates Warning influence as much as the others, but do feature some of the best examples of the relentless and innovative riffs that drive this album. These both have some really groovy sections, but not in the Pantera/Lamb of God groove sense, but more like Sacred Rite's “White Boy” or Joe Satriani's famous “Satch Boogie”. A definite departure to be sure, but one that's still well executed.

The album isn't flawless though. For all the praise I have to give the band for putting out such a strong late-career release, the diverse styles on the album don't exactly lend themselves to a consistent album. I had no problem enjoying each and every track, but it would be easy to understand if somebody were off put by the wide variety in styles, including the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) influences from jazz and hip-hop. And even I wasn't too fond of “Cannabis Sativa”, the bizarre album closer which sounds like Primus playing with a horn section.

But to be honest, in terms of weaknesses, you could do a lot worse and in spite of the few misfires here, Nails is fresh and unique and stands as a great example of a band coming together to put out a compelling and serious musical statement late in their career.

Originally written for The Metal Observer.

A lost classic re-emerges! - 90%

Chris Jennings, September 26th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Divebomb Records

Take Savatage, Nevermore, Iced Earth, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Iron Maiden, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and try and imagine a glorious mix of all those influences and your conclusion should match the incredibly diverse delights of Intrinsic’s sophomore album, originally recorded between 1991 and 1992. Inconceivably ‘lost’ for nearly 25 years, Nails is so much more than just a mere curiosity, it’s a revelation! It’s hard to imagine how this album wouldn’t have made an impact in the early 90’s – such is its uncanny knack for bridging progressive thrash and the grunge sound that proved all-conquering as the 90’s went on – but history was unkind. Finally receiving a long, long overdue release, it’s time to make amends for those lost years.

Unfurling with what may at first seem like a typical variant of thrash – think Sacred Reich meets Sanctuary – with incessant riffing and the kind of hair-raising vocals Warrell Dane so impressed with during his time with Nevermore this is contrasted with a classic Maiden vibe. Fist-pumping, energetic and confidently overblown in its rapid-fire riffing, NWOBHM fans should also lap this up.

That’s the wonder of this unearthed gem, Nails has everything.

The speed/thrash contingent are kept happy while those with more traditional tastes are catered for with a highly immersive mix of classic acoustic Zeppelin-isms, glorious harmonies and exquisite songwriting. This classic rock vibe also ripples through a few AOR moments like a lost mid-80’s Rush number minus the keyboards (thankfully). Histrionic one minute - think Artillery - flowing like liquid gold the next, this epic marrying of disparate styles merely scratches at the surface on what this great album has to offer.

“Denial” is the piece de resistance though; an astonishingly versatile track that is undoubtedly the missing link between thrash and grunge. With Alice In Chains styled melody and the fury dialed down via fluid guitar work and faithful hard rock vocal patterns, Intrinsic’s genius lies in their contrasting of harmony with intermittent thrash tempos. The addition of a pummeling beat-down of an ending that evolves into the heaviest moment on the album tops of an endlessly listenable, progressive thrash classic.

Nails is one of those ‘lost classics’ that actually lives up to its name. How this exquisite little number lay dormant for so long is a crime and any thrash/progressive metal fan worth their salt owes it to themselves to pick this up, immediately.

Originally published on