Nuclear Assault – Radiation Sickness
Cherry Red Records
Release Date: 13/10/23
Running Time: 33:25
Review by Simon Black
Noteworthy initially for the presence of bassist Dan Lilker, who was fired from Anthrax almost as soon as their debut album was released, and long before they were a hit, he founded Nuclear Assault immediately afterwards, an act from the same movement, but with a far more speed and aggression focussed sound. Nuclear Assault are one of a whole bunch of American Thrash acts whose influence seems to have come very much after the fact, as certainly over here they floundered compared to some of their peers, which is a shame as those initial albums were little gems buried in the Music For Nations catalogue.
This live album was recorded at Hammersmith Odeon way back in 1987, with the band touring the freshly minted “The Plague” EP at the time, but in fact had only been released as a VHS performance until this point a few years later, which is why you’ve probably not heard of it before. It’s not helped by the fact that as a supporting act on a crowded four act bill the sound quality is far from perfect, sounding in fact like it has been taken from the VHS recording rather than from an original audio recording, lacking as it does almost any of the sound tropes that even the most basic remastering process can deliver with today’s tech.
But that’s part of its charm. There’s dozens of acts in this day and age desperately trying to ape the early 80’s rough and raw sounds, which were the product of nothing more than cheap gear, no time and less money, and at the time what we all had in the way of playback equipment wasn’t much better… The point is and was, about the attitude that drove the Thrash music to stick two fingers up at the commercial tropes of the time, much as Punk did over here a decade earlier. What it does is snapshot the raw energy, aggression and absolute passion of a musical movement that had emerged from the underground, started to conquer the world but had yet to have major labels commercialise the crucial essence out of it quite yet.
At just over thirty minutes of run time, it does not get time to get stale, squeezing eleven brutal bursts of Thrash with the Punkier side of its roots showing up loud and proud, and without the benefit of any kind of equaliser… You can tell what the fuss was about, but it would also have been nice to see what the fuss about by packaging this lost gem up with the original live video, but hey, one nugget at a time. It’s rough, it’s raw, it’s got way too much treble in the mix, but it’s definitely a lot of fun.
02. Stranded In Hell
03. Nuclear War
06. My America
07. Radiation Sickness
08. After The Holocaust
09. Hang The Pope
John Connelly – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Dan Lilker – Bass, Backing Vocals
Glenn Evans – Drums
Anthony Bramante – Lead Guitar
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