Thursday, June 11, 2015

RECORD REVIEW: Nuclear Assault "Pounder"

RECORD REVIEW
Nuclear Assault
Pounder
(Sidipus Records)
_________________________

As a hungry, longtime
enthusiast, I couldn't
wait to sink my teeth
into the latest record
from one of thrash
metal's "Big Five."
_________________________

Produced by Nuclear Assault and engineered by Robert Blackburn, Pounder, was recorded in just two days, last January at famed Blackdog Recording Studios in Rochester, New York. Raw and gloriously lo-fi, the record combines the garage-like authenticity of the band's 2012 demo collection, Atomic Waste, with the world-class production of their 1989 epic, Handle with Care.

FACT: if you've got something to say in today's iGadget universe, you gotta say it ALL quickly. And if you can't convey your entire message in a mere thumbnail and 94 characters (or less), you'll likely miss out on connecting with your audience. Hence, in the super-competitive ADHD digital age, adopting a concise EP approach is a smart play — even for established artists. And with the newly released, four-song Pounder record, the NYC thrash metal kingpins manage to say more in just 13 minutes than most of their contemporaries can say in an hour.

THE "FINAL ASSAULT" WORLD TOUR
(The Palladium - Worcester, MA - 4.18.15)
*Photo: 
Rev Aaron @ ReturnToThePit.com
Three quarters of the classic Nuclear Assault line-up; lead vocalist / guitarist  John Connelly, bassist Dan Lilker and drummer Glenn Evans, reunite for the band's first new studio effort since 2005's Third World Genocide. Filling the void left by the (noticeable) absence of original lead guitarist, Anthony Bramante, latter day go-to guy, Erik Burke, once again joins the ranks to help re-capture the signature nuts-and-guts Nuke sound.

Written by Lilker and Connelly, the title track makes for a "pounding" opener — a scrappy little tune with no chorus in which Connelly calls his most faithful disciples to battle  Fair-weather fans gone with new trends. Fashions may change but metal says on with the show. And from the precision, lightning-fast snare / hi-hat work to the second-to-none jack hammer-like kick drum attack, it offers three-and-a-half-minutes worth of absolute proof why Glenn Evans continues to be the band's MVP.

2015 John Connelly channels 1989 John Connelly successfully on "The Blind Follow (aka Lies)." Driven by a powerful and familiar-sounding opening riff, it possesses a vibe in the vein of "Critical Mass."

Preaching a Gospel similar to "Brainwashed," the neck-breaking "Analog Man in a Digital World" also possesses a mighty riff, and comes frighteningly close to being "catchy." That is, if a "catchy" tune could kick your ass — then it's pretty darn "catchy." I wished I'd written this one.

The stylistic "square peg" of the set, "Died in Your Arms," recounts a home invasion that becomes a violent fight to the death for both parties. Downright scary in its narrative, this is one of the band's most "rock and roll-sounding" tracks ever. And Connelly's uncharacteristically "tuneful" vocals might bring to mind the late Rhette Forrester's work with Riot during the Restless Breed era.

"Died in Your Arms" is very
dark and disturbing. I get
chills up the back of my
neck when we play it live."
-Glenn Evans

Glenn Evans and Ace Frehley
together in Sweden - June 2015.
(Photo: Rachael Gordon) 

*Courtesy of Glenn Evans
Although the current global Nuke concert trek is being billed as The "Final Assault" World Tour, Glenn Evans confessed to me recently that there are plans for the band to record at least one more studio album. Should that be the case, it would truly be a Psycho Circus-caliber apex — if professional schedules and personal differences could be worked out and the classic FOUR reunited, one last time.

-Christopher Long
(June 2015)



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