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If Nuclear Assault’s debut is the thrash equivalent of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima, than their sophomore release, Survive, is the equivalent of a thermonuclear carpet bombing. We’re talking nuclear winter here; this thing’s power is measured in megatons. With Survive, NA improved significantly from Game Over: upping the distortion (and consequently, the riffage), cranking up the intensity level to at least 12, and dramatically increasing their kill radius beyond comparison to most conventional nuclear weapons (having wrecked the necks of countless listeners to date).
This is one of Nuclear Assault’s finest hours, showing them at their absolute best for almost its entire duration. The songs on here are a bit longer than the ones on Game Over, allowing for more tempo changes and structural diversity without slowing the band’s frantic pace one bit. Much of this is fast as fuck, as one would expect, but there’s plenty of mid-paced madness as well (“Wired” is a good example, it kicks ass regardless of the slower tempo). There’s even a nice clean intro to “Fight to be Free,” featuring a sweet solo from front man John Connelly. Though his playing and writing work magnificently with Anthony Bramante’s throughout the album, most of the choice solos are played by Bramante. But they suit one another nonetheless, with plenty of dueling leads to be found here. Glenn Evans once again beats the hell out of his set in that unhinged, yet spot-on way that only he can, impressing friends and embarrassing foes. Danny Lilker also continues to impress, with a better fit in the mix this time around and more great fills. Lyrics continue in the vein of their earlier politically-minded material and once again it works well.
The songs on here are varied, but almost entirely awesome. The fury of “Equal Rights” and “Rise from the Ashes” perfectly suits the crushing mid-tempo stompers like “Wired” and “Brainwashed.” Unfortunately, there’re a few pointless tracks included here as well, which seems to be the case on most of the band’s albums. I’m talking about “PSA” and “Got Another Quarter,” not the cover of Zep’s “Good Times Bad Times.” That song is a pretty accurate cover, though heavier than the original. Only downside is that it shows John Connelly’s general inability to sing well. His voice suits the band’s original material flawlessly, but he’s not much for imitating anyone with a melodic voice. But yeah, “PSA” and “Got Another Quarter” are pretty worthless. At least “Hang the Pope” from Game Over had a good message behind it.
But overall, Survive is an enjoyable release from an enjoyable band, definitely ranking among the best thrash albums from ’88 (though admittedly there are fewer classics from that year) and a staple addition to anyone’s collection. Supposedly it’s a bit rare on CD; in that case, get a fucking phonograph, this album is worth it.