Nuclear Assault - Handle With Care review


156 users:
Band: Nuclear Assault
Album: Handle With Care
Release date: 1989

01. New Song
02. Critical Mass
03. Inherited Hell
04. Surgery
05. Emergency
06. Funky Noise
07. F# (Wake Up)
08. When Freedom Dies
09. Search & Seizure
10. Torture Tactics
11. Mother's Day
12. Trail Of Tears

Rounding out Nuclear Assault's run of classic albums is Handle With Care, the most refined offering yet, but don't let that description fool you; this album is still as raw and raucous as what came before it. Featuring yet another glut of crossover-tinged thrash anthems, the nuclear crew detonate another precision strike on you.

Building on the momentum and sonic identity they had homed in on with Survive, the band craft their most precise and concise album yet. Sonically, the band sound like they have matured in leaps and bounds and threaten to take their own niche into the upper echelons of the 80's thrash scene and rival the big 4.

As you may tell from the album cover, one of the pre-dominant lyrical themes on this album is environmental devastation, from the sardonic "Critical Mass" and the grim reminder that our problems don't die with us in "Inherited Hell". The band lay waste to your ears as we do to our planet; the band's chainsaw guitars cut through straight to your brain like a chainsaw through a trunk. The ruminations of the trade off between security and freedom that is "When Freedom Dies" and the self-reflective "Trail Of Tears" show the band are as compelling a listen whatever topic they put their long hair to.

The urgency of "Critical Mass" proves an early highlight of the album and sets a bar that the rest of the album regularly matches. "Search And Seizure" will compel you to headbang before you arch back and scream "Seizure!" along with Connelly, before it ebbs and flows through its thrashy groove. "Trail Of Tears" ends the album on a high note and would punctuate the last song from the band's classic era with a boot up to the ass and face.

Handle With Care has a chunkier and thicker sound than its predecessors, yet maintains its loose nature; this dual nature is a huge plus as it is crushing for the metal fans yet loose for those who prefer a more hardcore aesthetic. Take "Surgery": Connelly's and Bramante's guitars have a distorted edge yet still hit hard, while Lilker's bass rumbles around them like it is coming from hell. The songs benefit from this rough and ready sound, which helps add to the urgency of the album, which Connelly does a great job of creating with his rapid fire vocals.

While I enjoy the madness that is "Mothers' Day", it does smack of obligation than of willing creation; carrying on the tradition of short, sharp, wacky songs, at this point it seems like the band felt compelled to include one rather than be inspired to write it. "Funky Noise" works because it is so out of left field and unexpected; at this point, if you see a song under a minute long on a Nuclear Assault you can predict what is coming.

While the line up would produce one more album in Out Of Order, Handle With Care would serve to be the last time Nuclear Assault would create something so vital and compelling that it demands to be heard and heard loud. Take your pick as to which of the three classic albums is your favourite, you're guaranteed a damn good time whichever one you select.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 8

Written by omne metallum | 18.07.2020


Hits total: 208 | This month: 9