Wednesday, August 22, 2012

RECORD REVIEW: Nuclear Assault "Atomic Waste!"

Nuclear Assault 
Atomic Waste!

Record liner notes:

The demo recordings on this slab
 are a snapshot of metal evolving.
Speed metal becoming thrash metal
becoming crossover. The longhairs
and the shorthairs each realizing
that maybe they weren't so different
from one another. Nuclear Assault
was a key band in this movement,
extending their hand to other bands
in an effort to push music forward.
Faster, heavier, better.

-David Karl Endlichhofer
Author of
30 Years & Counting in the Life
of Metal Veteran Dan Lilker

Before any embarrassing international pants-wetting incidents ensue, be sure that this is NOT the highly anticipated new studio offering from one of metal's "Big Five." Tracks presented on 2012's Atomic Waste! are, in fact, all demo recordings from the band's early days and exemplify a production caliber that most bands would fight to prevent fans from ever hearing. But then, Nuclear Assault has never been a conventional band.

Groundbreaking throughout the 1980s and into the '90s, Nuclear Assault merged punk, thrash, hardcore and speed successfully to create a unique brand of metal that many have copied, but few have matched. Their music created a powerful ripple effect that continues to be felt today.

Nuclear Assault at its apex - circa 1990.
But at its core, Nuclear Assault is a superb metal band. Their musical prowess  equaled or  surpassed  ALL of their contemporaries. Anthony Bramante is every bit the badass lead guitar  phenom as other more acknowledged golden gods, while drummer Glenn Evans is hands-down the mightiest of his peers — observations validated even through the lo-fi grit of Atomic Waste!  Yet despite the audio limitations of many of the master recordings used, "The Plague," "Vengeance" and "Cross of Iron" showcase the band at its neck-breaking best — tunes on which frontman John Connelly shines brightest.

Pioneers of politically incorrect punk, "Hang the Pope" and "Lesbians" are musically and lyrically as authentic as it gets. And although Nuclear Assault became known for this rather edgy lyrical content, founder and bassist Dan Lilker contributes fresh insight in the liner notes. "Initially, the lyrics were secondary to the music," Lilker admits. "(The lyrics were) just something to fill the gaps." Hence, Atomic Waste! offers instrumental demo versions of "Live, Suffer, Die," "Great Depression," "Brainwashed," "Survive" and "Fight to be Free."

Nuclear Assault - Atomic Waste!
(An impressive, photo-packed CD booklet)

Despite the perception created by the "Demo and Rehearsals" subtitle, the production quality of several tracks, including "Radiation Sickness," "Betrayal" and "Demolition" is actually as good or better than previous, properly produced Nuclear Assault records.

However, for the most part, it is what it is — a collection of garage-type demos — many culled from cassette tape master recordings. And in that regard, "Stranded in Hell," "Nightmares" and "Cold Steel" represent some of the dodgier-sounding tracks.

In addition to the CD format, Atomic Waste! also is available in black, white and "nuclear" green vinyl — exclusively through Germany's High Roller Records. As a longtime staunch proponent of the European metal scene, lead guitarist Anthony Bramante boasted recently about  the band's newfound label. "Colored vinyl! Only  from Germany, right? Fuggedaboutit!"

Although it certainly lacks the cohesiveness of such Nuclear Assault releases as Survive and Handle with Care, Atomic Waste! does serve as an impressive time capsule — offering longtime diehards a delightful and long-overdue kick in the sack.

-Christopher Long
(August 2012)

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  1. Replies
    1. Greetings Eric! Yes, Nuclear is the real deal. Keep in touch, man.


  2. Since this release is supposed to document the early history of Nuclear Assault about crediting the original lead guitarist and drummer who actually played on the seven earliest tracks and who were also involved in the creative process to a considerable degree?