When I saw Brutal Truth for the first time about ten years ago, a friend of mine walked up to Danny Lilker afterwards and said, “Good shit, man… now when are you going to start doing Nuclear Assault again?” Ten years later, was apparently the unspoken answer. And the herald to this sudden return is a new reunion concert disc, Alive Again, in which a rejuvenated and surprisingly youthful Nuclear Assault roar through the high points of their back catalog. And do I care that the usually trailblazing Nuclear Assault has seemingly jumped onto the “reunion bandwagon,” possibly cheapening their legacy? Fuck no, man. Consistency is boring and for fascists. Nuclear Assault is neither.
Nuclear Assault just fucking thrash, no, steamroll, no, whiplash (not a verb, but okay) through the high points of their back catalog with compact blasts of metal and hardcore and incredible melodies, courtesy of John Connelly Headbanger’s Ball stalwart.
“Rise From The Ashes” starts the show off, appropriately enough, and by the time the solo starts, I’m convinced that these guys are in it for the long live grind, and they ain’t gonna blow up one minute in and wheeze through the rest of the set like the Ultimate Warrior after shaking the ropes pre-match. If anything, they’re faster and tighter than ever. “Brainwashed” gets aired out again, though surprisingly tossed off casually as the second song. The band and the crowd just explode simultaneously in the first verse – fabulous number. “Sin” is either neo-hardcore or neo-black metal, whichever is louder. “Betrayal” is full of atonal feedback and grind, and some great drum fills. “Radiation Sickness” assumes a queasy new topicality in light of buried reports about depleted uranium shells used in Iraq as weaponry. It’s a long, sustained howl of outrage. Ditto for “Hang The Pope” – it’s a grindcore blur, that’s still relevant as long as… you know the rest. “Game Over” is a cracking, mantra-ish istrumental. “Butt Fuck” is Nuclear Assault’s “A Modest Proposal,” a fistful of metal up the ass of Vince Neil, for killing Hanoi Rocks’ Razzle, all couched in brutal proto-death metal. Heh, heh. “Tail of Tears” is another high point, a live grenade of melodic rage and crude riffs delivered with total precision, along with elegiac breaks of guitar soloing.
Included also is a three-minute video interview with the band explaining some of the rationale behind their reunion, as well as a cracking performance of “Brainwashed.” Man, that song was definitely the high point of Nuclear Assault to me, those lyrics are every bit as prescient (and spot-on) now as they were then. Clear Channel anthem, baby. That was and is one of the best things about Nuclear Assault, that they so seamlessly combined a humane political conscience with honestly some of the most evil music around. Oh fuck, they should totally show up to the Republican Convention in New York and go all MC5.