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Nuclear Assault were regarded as one of the progenitors of the east coast thrash movement along with Overkill, Anthrax, Whiplash and a few others. One of the individuals who played a vital role in their brutal sound was the drum battery, Glenn Evans. C.I.A happens to be a side project of his on which Glenn wanted to try out something different while still retaining much of the thrash crunch of NA. There are definite hardcore influences drawn from NYHC. The result overall is good but rather patchy and sometimes becomes a bit of a head scratcher. Glenn does a decent job in handling the duties on the instruments though with some able back up from fellow NA bandmates Anthony Bramante and Dan Lilker but his vocals are definitely a weak point.
The production is good with a lot of emphasis given to the sound of the drums (for obvious reasons). As far as the guitar riffs are concerned, they are all over the place in way that you listen to one good riff and you’ll have to wait a little to hear the next good one. But as far as the catchiness is concerned, I won’t deny that there are quite a few moments where you will find some rather interesting stuff. “Extinction” has a rather 80s inspired thrash riff with some good if not killer bass fills in the beginning and the middle and is arguably the best song on the album. The title track and “Buried Alive” are two other songs that sound good with the latter having a pretty good guitar solo. The rest of the album meanders towards average heavy metal with just a thing or two that keeps the level of interest somewhat high. The ballad “Samantha” is something that could have been good, had the lyrical content and music been worked upon a little more but just ends up becoming a throwaway track.
Basically this release is not meant for anyone who’s looking to listen to an absolute stunner of a record with lasting value. I would go as far to say that this should only be checked out by listeners of thrash and crossover who favor some good headbangable moments over lyrics. Moreover, if you like Nuclear Assault, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t like this.
Glenn Evans, formerly of Nuclear Assault, struck it out on his own and formed C.I.A., where he proceeded to step out from behind the drum kit and take over guitar, bass, and vocals. "In the Red" exhibits Evans' ample drumming talent, but alas also his blatant disregard for the concept of harmony.
The rhythm section is solid, brilliant at times. The drum beats and fills are dynamic and inventive, and the rhythm guitar doesn't stray far from the typical 80s thrash patterns. Evans' vocals, on the other hand, are god-awful. His strained delivery, ranging from hoarse talk to muted shout, wanders up and down in pitch but seemingly never makes an effort to land on any particular note. The lyrics are weak as well, with a lot of the songs using a short phrase shouted over and over as a chorus (ala Anthrax). The guitar solos, including guest appearances from Nuclear Assault bandmates Dan Lilker and Anthony Bramante, lean heavily on whammy-bar wankery, only adding further discord to the already raging cacophony.
"In the Red" does include an instrumental track, "Moby Dick Part 2"; and while here one might think was the band's chance to delight us with some adventurous rhythms unencumbered by Evans' grating voice, instead the track is one long, directionless, incoherent drum solo; which, despite whatever technical mastery might have been needed to play it, sounds more like someone throwing a drum kit down a flight of stairs than an actual song.
The final track, "Samantha", ends abruptly with the lead guitar striking a sour note and then a quick fade-out. Awkward indeed, but somehow a fitting summary for the entire album.