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Nuclear Assault Alive Again

By Eden Capwell, Contributor
Monday, August 4, 2003 @ 10:46 AM


(SPV/Steamhammer)

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Recorded in Attleboro Massachusetts, in May of 2002, with the original line-up, as follows:

Dan Lilker—Bass
John Connelly--Vocals, guitar
Glenn Evans--Drums
Anthony Bramante--Lead guitar (Replaced after this recording with: Erik Burke from Lethargy and Mastercore).

I came home last night from an amazing, and unusual CD release party, thinking little could top my weekend after that. Not so. I put Alive Again on--enter the shit-eating grin. The one that makes other people look at you funny and ask, “What are you on?” “What have you been smoking?” “Are… you feeling alright?” “Is there something funny, something you’d like to share?” I hate that. Can’t you have a happy, shit-eating grin on your face without any imbecilic questions? I guess not. But I was happy -- fuck everyone else around me. This was everything I had hoped it would be, and it did live up to the hype about this bands reunion. This is their “test the waters” experiment, to see if the world would welcome these thrash giants back into the fold.

12 Tracks, 38 minutes. This is a taste test, a tease, a cruel joke on this long-term thrash fan. I would have loved another three songs added. But since they’re preparing new material for release this autumn I won’t complain about its brevity. It’s not really about the length so much, as it is the technical skill, the smooth and flawless execution (Had they even been on hiatus for 9 years? You cannot tell by this recording), the energy, passion, aggression. It was a nice set, with a good crowd, who weren’t shy about chanting chorus moments, yelling, and yelling a few times for “The Pope.” Excellent capture of an intense set.

Problems? Overall sound is only pretty good. Some editing. Some of the crowd sound has been spliced out. Some overdubs. John Connelly sounded slightly winded on that night. Not terribly so, a tiny bit of power was gone. Not too noticeable. The solos come in louder than the rest of the band. And really, the drummer (ex TT Quick, you know) is at times as thunderous and rowdy as a raped ape. Being that this is thrash, the so-called “problems” aren’t even problems! Who cares that the solo is too loud? That’s good. Who cares that Glenn Evans snare has an actual “thwap” sound to it, the double bass is bowel loosening and he’s really loud? Who cares if the singer is a tiny bit winded? They ran from one song to the next, and to the next, and to the next. I’m breathless just typing how fast this whizzed past me. Problems this time are bonuses. Again… Insert the shit-eating grin.

Bonus interview, total time of about 6 minutes, mixed with shots of them live in small venues, European festivals, still shots with fans. Plus the live footage for the song “Brainwashed.” Basically the interview is their take on making pure thrash, how they polished their live set, and why they let the live recording be done in the first place… “To let the fans know we’re back. So they wouldn’t have to wait a year and a half between material.” - Lilker.

1) Rise from the Ashes -- You can hear the crowd yelling, and this is an excellent disc opener. Rips right into the next song…

2) Brainwashed -- “Why don’t you think for yourself.” This song is a prime example of how the guitars come in flawlessly, crisp and clean. Thunderous drums and bass. Without a look back, right into the next song.

3) F* -- A fast, technical song, that simply left me speechless. I'll leave it to your imagination, especially if you've seen them live, and know their catalog.

4) New Song -- Scalding solo, so loud, so clear, it freaking hurts. Excellent harmonization--again I’m humbled thinking these guys hadn’t been touring. You couldn’t tell from listening to this. (Although I hear they are even tighter performing live now.)

5) Critical Mass -- My personal favorite overall, and live rendition.

6) Sin -- The break down that this song has is priceless, so is the guitar tone that’s been captured so perfectly.

7) Betrayal--All about the guitar, the rhythm, the solo’s and the leads.

8) Radiation Sickness -- Could not be more punishing.

9) Game Over -- “Play the fucking POPE!” yells someone in the crowd. Lilker’s response: “Not only are we gonna hang him, but hang all the kid fucking Priests!” The slow fade in, nasty bass lines leading to this outstanding metal instrumental. The shit-eating grin comes back right here.

10) Butt Fuck -- Social commentary at it’s finest: “Kill the leaders!…an interesting concept, that no one has tried yet.” Pushes and pulls back and forth between speed and bluesy metal.

11) Trail of Tears -- Such an outstanding solo (double), overflowing with emotion. Viciously breaks back into thrash with ease.

12) Hang the Pope -- As it started, it ends perfectly. “Pope!” “Play the Pope!”

As you can see, this is literally a Best of Track Listing. With songs culled from the first three full-length albums and The Plague EP. So much more than a nostalgia trip, proof positive that those unmistakable odd vocals, guitar tones, double bass, and magic are all still present. If you can’t get into this, you really can’t be helped.

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