Pounder is the first studio recording from New York City thrash metal veterans Nuclear Assault since their 2005 release, Third World Genocide. The EP was self-released on June 1, 2015, and includes four old-school thrash metal songs that make a nostalgic metal-heart like mine happy. The line-up consists of John Connelly on vocals and guitar, Dan Lilker on bass, Glenn Evans on drums – these 3 metal-pioneers were already with Nuclear Assault back in the 80s –, and Erik Burke on guitar rounds up the quartet.
The title-track of the EP, Pounder, kicks off the record. Powerful and fast drumming underlays a brachial thrash riff and John’s powerful belting vocals whiplash us through the 3 minutes and 21 seconds. The song reminds me of the 80s thrash metal debuts of Metallica, Megadeth, Death Angel, and also of Nuclear Assault. After 30 years the band is still true to its roots. Wonderful opener!
Lies picks up where Pounder left off. The song starts with a straight head-nodding beat and thrashy guitar riff to then introduce a double-time drum-beat. Again, very typical of the early thrash metal days in the 80s. I especially enjoy the double-bass reverse drum-parts during the guitar solo after around 2:00. Also, the choirs at the end add a great twist to the song.
Analogue Man in a Digital World stands out because of its lyrics. The title already suggest its content. Just to give you a hint: “Nifty little gadget you’ve got running your world. Tell me when’s the last time that you spoke to a girl? Always with your head down as you walk down the street. Walking into strangers oh excuse me please.” The music follows the same concept as the previous two songs: in-your-face uptempo thrash metal. Another great song.
Died in Your Arms closes the EP with a shuffled metal-rock song. John’s singing reminds me of Glenn Danzig in some way, which is a good thing, since it matches the song very well. The song has a less aggressive feel; rather darker, and it benefits from what seems a more elaborated guitar riff than in the other three songs. Also, the laid-back feel during the intermezzo/guitar solo part adds a refreshing touch to the EP. Ending the song with a brachial reverse double-bass drum-beat underlining the main guitar riff rounds the EP up just the way it’s supposed to be.
Even after three decades, a hiatus, some line-up changes, and whatnot, Nuclear Assault are still rockin’ out with their metal horns out, and the great thing (for me) is that they still sound the same, which is a good thing! By that I don’t mean that the band did not evolve. They simply stayed true to their roots. I listened to the band’s 1986 debut, Game Over, right before listening to the Pounder EP to write this post and it felt like listening the same album.
The recording to the Pounder EP sounds relative rough, just like thrash recordings in the 80s, which add a special nostalgic and ‘real’ feel to it these days. I have no insights about how the album was recorded – digital, analogue, with post-production edits, etc. – but it surely sounds like a band just went to the studio, set up their gear, and rocked the day away. Also, the musical concept of the EP is clear. Not much different sounds or additional tracks. The lyrics didn’t really catch my attention except for Analogue Man in a Digital World, but I guess that is completely okay, since the riffs are very prominent and characterise the songs strongly.
Total grade 7.5/10
Final Assault 2015 Tour
Make sure to catch Nuclear Assault at a venue near you this summer. I’ll make sure to attend their gig at Schüür in Lucerne, Switzerland.