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Last Album Standing - 99%

morbert, May 15th, 2007

Starting off by saying ‘Survive’ is considered by many to be their best (or at least most aggressive) album but ‘Handle with Care’ is definitely my personal favourite. It’s possible this might have been caused by ‘Handle…’ being my first Nuclear Assault album. I’ve always had difficulties trying to decide whether ‘Handle…’ or ‘Survive’ was the superior album. Ah well, they both are the core of Nuclear Assault quality.

‘Emergency’ has got to be one of their lyrically fastest thrashers ever (not counting their short grindy tunes) and a logical follow up to the earlier ‘Equal Rights’ on Survive. It’s hard to keep up with John Connelly’s words on the verses here. And over all there are plenty of speedy thrashers here, more than enough to keep any Nuclear Assault fan happy. ‘New Song’ is as powerful as it is catchy. Which goes for ‘Search and Seizure’ and ‘F#’ as well. Also a lot of hails go to ‘Trail Of Tears’. These angry thrashers managed to write a more than decent thrash metal power ballad.

But the award best song actually does NOT go to any of the fast songs. ‘Critical Mass’ which remains to this day one of the most powerful midtempo thrashers from the eighties together with their classic ‘Brainwashed’ from ‘Survive’. Even the distorted bass sound of Danny Lilker makes sense here! Superb environmentally correct lyrics by Connelly which are really catchy. The way the song progresses from the last line of the chorus (‘Bring on the acid rain’) into the second verse (‘Slightly insane, the type of greed ’) including slide on the guitar is just perfect and you can not help but bang your head to this mighty song.

Whether the songs are really fast, syncopated or pretty mid paced, they’re all remarkably catchy here and the band manages to incorporate slightly more melody compared to the previous albums without losing momentum or aggression. No song (not counting short noisy eruptions) can be considered bad or filler. The worst moments on ‘Handle With Care’ are ‘good’ at least.

Since the days of ‘Hang The Pope’ and ‘My America’ the short funny songs have become more and more grindcore instead of crossover. ‘Mother’s Day’ is quite a nice grinder (better than ‘Got Another Quarter’ and ‘PSA’ were on Survive), and it doesn’t take too long to feel out of place here. ‘Funky Noise’ however, being a short funky tune (d’oh) was rather obsolete. Also worth mentioning in the funny-department is the Nazi-sample from the classic 1980 movie ‘Blues Brothers’ at the end of ‘Torture Tactics’.

The production is dirty but never too much. Less transparent than earlier works with distorted bass guitar mixed in more prominently, making this album sound heavier and at times somewhat sloppier. Not that it’s really sloppy of course but it never gets too clean or tight. Therefore the album just breaths the thrash metal atmosphere. As a whole the album manages to combine the speed metal melodies (especially vocal lines on choruses) of ‘Game Over’ with the full on thrash assault of ‘Survive’ and therefore remains the purest and most crystallised Nuclear Assault release. And bloody brilliant as well.