Saturday, April 17, 2010


Tons of shit going wrong here, all leading to the inevitable footnoting of one of the most awesome bands in thrash metal. With a new aesthetic in mind Nuclear Assault set about completely reworking their formula to revolve around glossy instrumentation as opposed to their sloppy, breakneck attack evinced on earlier efforts. The speed is mostly gone aside from a few moments, replaced by midpaced breakdown anthems and overly ambitious songs. Acoustic guitars feature prominently throughout and that's as sure a sign as any that all is not right in the Nuclear Assault camp. Also telling are the extremely lengthy recording credits. Seems there wasn't a single moment where all the band members were together in a studio, instead opting to record the album in bits and pieces across different dates, time and cities with everyone playing everything. John Connelly even bows out on a few tracks vocal-wise and that is not good. His voice is a defining element of Nuclear Assault and to hear songs given over to the lead guitarist's weak pipes is unforgivable.
Anthony Bramante is an excellent guitarist though, and his leads have the reek of studied composition to them that just does not vibe well with NA's hyperfast, go-for-broke attack. This was a huge change from previous albums. And the leads are all over. Some songs boast several, dancing across the earscape like fleet-footed ballerinas hungry for attention because they're so dressed up and sparkly. That seems a little harsh, i guess, but the leads simply don't fit. They're too controlled and too flawless, and they sound too different, like NA just called up a studio guy to dress up the songs (Bramante was an original member, if that makes any difference to you.) I'm puzzled how he could have so lost so much focus in so short a period of time. Increasing talent as a musician does crazy things in your head.
I know it sounds like i'm disgusted with this record. I'm really not. It isn't terrible and its certainly miles better than a lot of what's passing for thrash these days. It's no Dark Angel, but fuck, no one could be. What's sad about "Out of Order" is that it's possible to actually hear the band disintegrating. Listening to this leaves no doubt in your mind that this project's time left is minimal. It's like they were at a non-negociable impasse in their career-what to do after making kick ass frenzy-fuled headbangers like "Game Over" and "Handle With Care"? Metallica were raising the bar significantly composition-wise at this point in thrash, so i'm sure a lot of bands were feeling a pressure, a demand to evolve and over complicate things or risk disappearing. Nuclear Assault should have realized that they were never that sort of band-"compositions" don't suit them as well as speed, and too many mid-paced 5 minute songs on a NA album makes for a depressing and tedious time. Only on "Stop Wait Think," (six songs in!) do we get that Nuclear Assault of old, the blitzkrieging dexterity demon that shreds faces and induces whiplash. And then it's gone, and you're wading through a bunch of long, grinding riff-fests (grinding here implying an agony, not an enjoyment.)
Danny Lilker left Anthrax and formed Nuclear Assault because Anthrax weren't fast or intense enough. This was after "Fistful of Metal," too, a record as intense and crazy as "Kill 'Em All" or "Killing is My Business." For two albums Nuclear Assault absolutely delivered the fucking goods, keeping thrash as rough, raw and fast as it always should have been. And then this happened. How could Lilker even stick around for this? He had to even seen what was happening. He must have known the songs were sub-par. They all had to have seen what was happening, but it's hard to give up something you've put so much time and work into. There was one more album after this and then the band dissolved. I haven't heard that last record, although i'm curious...where could you possibly go from here?

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