Acting as a direct follow-up to the last EP Pain, Cope, the newest Beth Shalom Records release from digital hardcore outfit NAILBREAKER has similarity within its lyrical themes and inspirations such as unemployment, self-harm, suicide, the effect of the current political landscape on mental health, and personal responsibiliity. Whereas Pain focused mostly on attempting to articulate complex mental health issues, Cope is more about recognising how these issues manifest in everyday life and how to deal with it. Today, we’re giving you the full track by track commentary, and more details about this intriguing offering.
“There’s no desire to glamourise these problems in the slightest – they are crippling and hugely reduce quality of life if left untreated – there’s nothing inherently artistic in being mentally ill. It’s more of an attempt to hold myself responsible for my own well-being while painting a portrait of the mental hell that depression and other associated disorders can be” – comments NAILBREAKER.
The music was all made in the period of April-October 2021, with lyrics written around the same time and recorded in October. The EP was mixed and mastered by Rufus Fox at Piss Alley Studios in Northampton.
This is the first time there has been any outside input in the music of Nailbreaker, with all production, mixing and mastering being handled entirely by himself in the past. Rufus’ input has massively expanded the dynamic range of the music, creating a much fuller and heavier sound without compromising any of the grittiness of previous projects. They worked together in many of the mixing sessions, with Rufus managing to bring out the most destructive qualities of the beats to make it a difficult listen, but not unlistenable.
Nailbreaker is a digital hardcore artist based in Rushden, Northamptonshire.
Fusing elements of harsh noise, rap, industrial and punk, the project takes distortion-drenched beats and existential lyrics to create a musical assault on the ears. Since late 2018, Nailbreaker has released two EPs, a megamix, and several singles, as well as playing up and down the country in performances which have often ended in broken equipment and spilled blood.
Track by track commentary:
This track was put together in September 2021, as a collage of various unfinished beats on my laptop and samples out of my record collection. I wanted the low-end instrumentation of the track to be abrasive, with unrelenting fast kick patterns and a heavy, almost overbearing bass tone. Since the release of my last EP “Pain”, I’ve been playing around more with contrasting tonalities – mixing noise parts with melodic sections, glitchy synths with pummeling percussion, etc – this approach towards composition inspired most of the musical themes on this EP, but also this track in particular.
Lyrically the track centres around similar themes to the last EP; notably, pain in all forms and how we cope with it, through healthy or unhealthy means, and how that pain inspires decisions we make in our personal lives. Many of us, when we’re in intense physical or emotional pain, tend to make decisions that negatively affect us simply because we want to feel something other than the pain we’re in.
It’s probably not a smart decision to drink to excess alone/start a fight with that guy at the pub/shoplift the off-licence, but when your head is in a mindset of perpetual numbness, putting yourself in an otherwise dangerous situation gives you some relief from the monotony of unemployment and depression. Even if the decisions we make will cause us more pain and difficulty later on, the desperation to feel something in the moment will drive you to make choices against your better judgement.
I Will Be Personally Responsible for the Death of Elon Musk
This is another song with an emphasis on heavy low-end instrumentation. The bass and kick tracks are actually duplicates of one another, with EQing and effects being used to alter the timbre and create entirely different sounds to each other. This was done to make both parts feel more intense overall and add more dynamic quality to sections where the bass and the kicks drop in and out.
The rest of the track is made up of various spliced-up versions of the same sample – a single loop was slowed down, sped up, cut apart and delayed across multiple different tracks to create a cacophonous, psychedelic effect that changes throughout the song.
As the track title suggests, lyrically this song expresses contempt towards the new wave of crypto-obsessed tech-bros whose main motivation in life appears to be pushing capitalism to become more of a dystopian hellscape than the one we’re already living in.
The prioritisation of new technological developments which benefit no-one but the few billionaires with control, at the expense of the planet and the working classes, has created a new culture which treats colonial tech-moguls such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos as paragons of virtue – “benevolent” leaders who have been so kind to bless us with novelties to make life as a consumer more convenient, whilst stripping the workers responsible for producing these products of basic human rights and resources.
When you’re watching all of this unfold as a powerless onlooker, you can start to feel hopeless, like there’s no point in living in a world rigged by people who only serve their own interests.
What future is there for those who don’t wish to participate in the eventual colonisation of outer space? What future is there for those who don’t want to gamble the little money they already have on experimental means of finance only for it to line the pockets of a corrupt billionaire they’ll never meet? With the ongoing worsening mental health crisis, those of us already prone to suicidal ideation and intent are already being driven further to edge of sanity by the lack of work and resources available to us. The work which is available doesn’t pay well and has generally bad working conditions. There is no hope and no future in this lifestyle.
This song was originally intended to be mostly harsh noise with very little percussion or rhythm in general, but over time evolved into something much more melodic and palatable. Almost every sound used in this song was recorded out of my kitchen, with distorted and blown-out field recordings of kettles, cutlery, frying, a microwave, broken ceramic among other found sounds being heavily manipulated to create bass sounds, white noise, feedback, and as many other tonalities as I could fit into the track.
The snares and main melody are the only two sounds which didn’t come from the kitchen, but both were still drenched in varying layers of distortion and effects so they could be an equal level of intensity as the other parts.
Long Dead End
Many of the sounds I use on the songs I make are artificial in one way or another, so having a song like this which is mostly built on live instrumentation made for a refreshing change of pace as a writer. This is obviously a bit more of a straightforward punk song, with some industrial and noise elements thrown in, but there wasn’t a specific intent outside of communicating the same level of anger, hopelessness, and frustration that’s prominent in most of my material.
The musicality of the track is informed by my love of hardcore music and a desire to do something stylistically that reflected that while trying to use different themes which aren’t as common for this genre. There’s no huge attempt to reinvent the punk wheel here, just adrenaline and rage.