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Last cry from a soon to be obsolete scene - 80%

thee_dr, February 18th, 2008

New York's Nuclear Assault. Less corny than Overkill and a litlle bit more socio-political than Anthrax, and with arguably more street cred. They went hand-in-hand with other '80's thrash demigods like Voivod and Dark Angel in terms of popularity but not neccesarily musical details. Nuclear Assault are also notable for the inclusion of bassist Danny Lilker, who was also in Stormtroopers of Death and later seminal grindcore merchants Brutal Truth. He is one of extreme musics primary ambassadors of the four-string.

The year was 1989.Metallica had already released '...And Justice for All', the spectre of the Seattle explosion was just around the corner but two years away and Death Metal was starting to surpass thrash as the metalheads drug of choice.It was in this enviroment of iffiness and uncertainty that 'Handle With Care' was released.

It kicks off with 'New Song 'which has a catchy opening guitar riff and is a good example of the fast verse/mid-pace chorus or the opposite of which that Nuclear Assault are rather adept at. 'Critical Mass' is a superb mid-paced thrasher with a prominent bassline courtesy of the aforementioned Mr. Lilker. Other standout tracks are 'Emergency' with it's manic full-on thrashing and which also has a nice 'ambulance siren' lead in the beginning. 'F# (Wake Up)' is also highly likeable with dependable riffing and song structure.

Lyrically ,the band (along with Sacred Reichand later Agnostic Front) fancy themselves as a kind of politcal thrash band in the purest sense of the words. They address issues as diverse (and cliched) as enviromental issues, animal experimentation, personal freedoms,etc. There isn't an issue they don't want to address.At times it can seem a little ghey or come across as a little too 'bleeding heart' for my taste but overall they're alright, even inspired at times.

Production-wise it is very well done in my opinion. You can hear all the instruments clearly, making the rythm section especially realy shine on 'Critical Mass' and several others.

There are however a couple of weak moments. First is 'Funky Noise'-the song is absurd, shitty even by 'funk' standards, and ultimately pointless. Another song that maybe could have been excluded is 'Mother's Day'. I like this song and it's good for what it is but it doesn't seem like it belongs among the rest of these songs. It might have been stronger as a B-side to a single, for example. Another gripe is what seems to be an over-long outro to 'Trail of Tears', the last track on this record. They probably could have cut it in half without taking away anything fom the song.

Those three things are the only reason I took away points. Nuclear Assault and bands of their ilk were (unfortunately) soon to be overshadowed by pale pretenders to the thrash/metal throne like Pantera, Machine Head, and a watered-down version of Slayer who went by the name of...Slayer-so even if you don't like this band or recoed it is still the lesser of two evils.Get this record if ye may-it's not their best but it is a nice little introduction to a fine '80's thrash band in what might just be their last decent record.