Nuclear Assault – Something Wicked

Nuclear Assault released some of the best Thrash Metal albums of the 1980s. The likes of Game Over, Survive and Handle With Care are magnificent classics of speedy, Hardcore Punk tinged, memorable and vibrant music, with a mixture of politically charged or sometimes comedic lyrics.

Their fourth album Out Of Order was a bit of a step down in quality, stylistically it was a bit slower and a bit more diverse than their best albums, but overall it was still decent. Next up however, there was a very significant line-up change in the early ‘90s, with founding member, former-Anthrax bassist Dan Lilker was out of the band, as was guitarist Anthony Bramante.

In 1993 they released their third (and up until a reunion many years later) and final album, Something Wicked, which was the first and only album to feature bassist Scott Metaxas and guitarist Dave DePitro. If the previous album was a bit slower and more diverse, then Something Wicked is a lot slower and more diverse. I had read many negative things about it over the years, hearing how the band had ran out of steam, and never gave it chance until about 15 years after I first got into the band.

Turns out, like many supposedly bad albums by bands I love (Testament’s The Ritual, Anthrax’s State Of Euphoria, Annihilator’s Set The World On Fire etc.) that I shouldn’t listen to the reviews and just make up my own mind. Predictably, Something Wicked is way better than its given credit for.  The production is fuller than any of their other albums, the vocals are more varied and accomplished than any of their other albums and stylistically there is a lot more going on her than most of their albums. It is still not their best work, but it is not the car crash you may have been led to believe.

The most recognisable song is the opener and the lead single, title-track ‘Something Wicked.’ Its mid-paced, stompy, but still has the thrash feel. Sort of like how ‘The American Way’ is for Sacred Reich. Other highlights include ‘Chaos’ which reminds me of Youthanasia-era Megadeth as well as ‘To Serve Man’ and ‘Poetic Justice,’ which are two of the briefer songs on the record, and the fastest songs that sound most like their earlier work. (Not as short as the acoustic outro ‘The Other End’ or indeed the jokey track ‘Art’ though, which is only a few seconds long and reminiscent of a few of their other few-seconds-long joke tracks from earlier albums).

Its an interesting album. If you are only into speed, it may not be your thing, but if you don’t mind the band stretching their horizons a bit, then it is still worth checking out.   

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