Nuclear Assault

Handle With Care

Nuclear Assault - Handle With Care ©1989 In-Effect
1. New Song
2. Critical Mass
3. Inherited Hell
4. Surgery
5. Emergency
6. Funky Noise
7. F#(wake Up)
8. When Freedom Dies
9. Search & Seizure
10. Torture Tactics
11. Mother's Day
12. Trail Of Tears

Nuclear Assault, the New York thrash quartet who always seemed best known as the band featuring ex-Anthrax bassist Dan Lilker, finally found their stride on their third full length release, Handle With Care. As the warning stamped onto planet Earth suggests, there's a lot of political and social commentary to be found on this album and it's presented in a most kinetic, frantic speed metal form. Nuclear Assault, as their name suggests, played at hyperspeed nearly all the time and Handle With Care is a slaughtering of the senses and in a very good way. While singer/guitarist John Connelly still had this helium inflated yell that tended to be a very acquired taste - he certainly didn't have a high, clean falsetto like many thrash bands of the day but it wasn't a growl either - the overall presentation of the music is so convincing here that any fan of thrash and speed metal had to be impressed. While the band often played at the very edge of completely unbridled frenzy, the production actually allowed enough clarity to let the listener in on the actual riffs and songs. There are also enough dynamics in the songs to make a good chunk of them very memorable: "F# (Wake up)", "Inherited Hell", the quasi-epic "Trail of Tears" and "New Song" are all strong thrash numbers that could hook a listener.

While Nuclear Assault was always a second tier thrash outfit, Handle With Care is an album that justifies inclusion into thrash enthusiast's collection. The band would certainly never equal this pinnacle again.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2001

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Game Over / The Plague

Nuclear Assault - Game Over / The Plague ©1991 Combat/Relativity
1. Live, Suffer, Die
2. Sin
3. Cold Steel
4. Betrayal
5. Radiation Sickness
6. Hang The Pope
7. After The Holocaust
8. Mr. Softee Theme
9. Stranded In Hell
10. Nuclear War
11. My America
12. Vengeance
13. Brain Death
14. Game Over
15. Nightmares
16. (You Figure It Out)
17. Justice
18. The Plague
19. Cross Of Iron

After parting ways with Anthrax, bassist Dan Lilker ended up coming together with a few veterans of New York's blossoming thrash scene. Guitarist/vocalist John Connelly had actually played briefly in early versions of Anthrax while drummer Glenn Evans had originally kept the beat for TT Quick. Rounding out the lineup for Nuclear Assault was guitarist Anthony Bramante, who is mostly known to this day for being the fourth guy in Nuclear Assault.

Nuclear Assault didn't waste any time putting out two of the better mid 80s thrash releases: their debut full length Game Over and its quick follow-up EP The Plague. Both albums are very similar, which makes the eventual CD pairing of the two releases a smart move. As a result, Game Over / The Plague is one of the best examples of the relatively early thrash scene. Nuclear Assault may never have been catapulted to the level of their friends in Anthrax, but they solidly entrenched themselves as one of the top second tier bands with their 80s releases.

Nuclear Assault was one of the faster playing bands of the era, usually going full throttle throughout. The band's serious topics were counterbalanced by humorous interludes, such as "Hang the Pope" and "(You Figure It Out)" (more commonly known as "Buttfuck"). Thus, unlike some of their grimfaced, dour counterparts who offered nothing but visions of doom and despair, Nuclear Assault injected a somewhat grumbly scene with necessary humor. Production on both releases is typical for thrash metal. Everything is fairly clear, but a bit on the thin side. However, Nuclear Assault was one of the rare thrash bands where you could hear the bass rumble along. John Connelly's high, reedy, paper-thin vocals are a bit of an acquired taste, but they were so unique that it gave Nuclear Assault a sound that no one else would be duplicating.

While there may be more impressive thrash releases from the mid 80s and more influential albums out there, fans of the style simply can't go wrong with Game Over / The Plague. Nuclear Assault was well balanced, musically adept and most of all, a lot of fun. With all the copycats that diluted the scene with superfluous releases, it's wise to go for the releases that did stand apart from the rest. This happens to be one of them.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2004

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