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.
Opener “State Of The Union” unfurls with what may at first seem like a typical variant of thrash – think Sacred Reich meets Sanctuary – with incessant riffing accompanying an environmental message and the kind of hair-raising vocals Warrell Dane so impressed with during his time with Nevermore. In contrast, “Fight No More” channels a classic Maiden vibe. Fist-pumping, energetic and confidently overblown in its rapid-fire riffing, NWOBHM fans should lap this up.
That’s the wonder of this unearthed gem, Nails has everything.
The speed/thrash contingent are kept happy with “Die Trying”, “Pillar Of Fire” and “Too Late But Not Forgetten” while “Inner Sanctum” is a highly immersive mix of classic acoustic Zeppelin-isms, sumptuous violin, glorious harmonies and exquisite songwriting. The kind of classic rock for (what was the) modern era that also ripples through the AOR vibe found on “Mourn For Her”; a mid-80’s Rush number minus the keyboards (thankfully) and featuring another welcome dose of Zeppelin grandeur.
Continuing the trend, “On Gossamer Wings” straddles the two sounds perfectly, recalling mid 70’s Judas Priest – think the calmer moments of “Victim Of Changes” – stalking the mid 80’s sounds of Artillery. Histrionic one minute, flowing like liquid gold the next, this epic marrying of disparate styles is just one of many endless surprises on 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 dialled 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.
We’ll go out on a limb here and say 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. 9/10