NUCLEAR ASSAULT / HIDDEN INTENT / MURDERWORLD
MANNING BAR SYDNEY FRIDAY 24TH FEBRUARY
Before I begin my run down of last night’s gig a big shout out needs to go to Hardline Media! I sincerely never thought that Nuclear Assault would ever grace our shores, and if it wasn’t for their foresight and motivation, no one in Australia would have ever experienced their ferocity on our soil.
Nuclear Assault, as a thrash metal band, has been on the periphery of the “more prominent” US thrash acts since their inception in 1986. They have chopped at the heels of the self-titled/indulgent Big 4, with their “fuck you” brand of thrash, moulded around traditional metal ideals and structures, with early punk overtones and at times, even “punk-ish” melody lines. The release of Game Over, through Combat in the US and Under One Flag in Europe/UK in 1986, made a lot of people stand up and listen. The New Yorkers burst on the scene with a thought provoking and confronting release. The band, with subsequent releases, through to the end of the eighties, just got better and better. Their lyrics, musicianship and song writing, just grew within their own brand of thrash and harsh real-view of the world.
So why did it take nearly thirty five years for the band to get to Australia, for ironically their first and last ever tour? Well, this is a question only promotion companies could answer, and to be honest, none of this was relevant to their three date tour over the last week, it was all about the music. Now the Manning Bar wasn’t packed for this gig, but it was easily 350 strong, and everyone turned up to thrash. The opening act, Murder World, was extremely tight and engaging. I had never actually seen these guys before, and they were impressive. They had a strong twin guitar attack and vocally the band carried itself very well. The band had a real command of the room and punters were lapping it up. This outfit is definitely one to look out for and check out if you haven’t already. Next up was Hidden Intent, and they have really matured over the period of time that I have seen them play. They graced the stage with a real confidence and intent (no pun intended…sorry did it again!) and they were really polished. Touring on the back of outfits like Nuclear Assault, and getting to play to a decent size room has really done them a lot of favours. This band is ready to hit the overseas market in my opinion, and I am sure that a stint like this will take them to the next level.
Nuclear Assault hit the stage around 10:20, and they certainly came to play. As the curtains were drawn and the band was poised, ready to power, the crowd went nuts. They burst into After the Holocaust and from the outset, made it very clear that they were not here to disappoint. The next few songs were a blur as the band kept churning them out as quick and intense as they could, with Wake Up, which was brilliant, followed in quick succession, by When Freedom Dies and the amazing Stranded in Hell from Game Over. Vengeance was a highlight for me, one of my favourites, again from Game Over. The material on Game Over has stood up so well over time and on reflection, listening to these songs live, this debut has never received the recognition it deserves!
The inclusion of Nick Barker on drums, the double bass “Professor,” did the speed and tightness of the Nuclear Assault sound no harm. He really put his signature and own interpretation of the songs down tonight, and he drove the band flawlessly. I have seen this guy play in a number of different bands, and outfits generally more extreme than Nuclear Assault, however, he was right at home, and actually seemed to fit in better here than anywhere else that I have seen him before.
Tonight was a set of hit after hit after hit, if Nuclear Assault really had any hits; Nuclear Assault is definitely not a top 40 band after all. It was certainly a best of set and so no one could have left this gig disappointed, and in my opinion, a tribute to this, was the fact that the set went so quickly! There was no down time, and no lull in the performance, and this was even during John Connelly having to change a guitar string on two occasions. I honestly can’t remember an international band coming to Australia and breaking two strings in a set. But if anything, this just gave Dan, Eric and Nick time to jam on some gems that were not obviously going to be placed in to the set.
The band not only commanded the room, but was openly enjoying what they were doing, and the deep friendship between John and Dan, in particular, was very clear during the show. I was actually surprised, and unaware, of just how much Dan contributes to the between song banter and introductions, and this worked so well. A Nuclear Assault set would not be complete without Hang The Pope, a definite favourite of mine, and the crowd went nuts with tonight’s rendition; I can die happy now.
As the band started playing Betrayal (another Game Over composition), on the back of Dan stating that the set was coming to a close, the gig was soon over. It is a little sad to think that this will be the only time that we get to see Nuclear Assault, but on the other hand, after being a fan for over twenty years or so, it’s great to able to say that I have seen them tonight. To me, this show summed up everything that heavy metal is about, passion, sincerity, intensity and brotherhood. There were no issues with the crowd tonight, even though the pit was relentless. Thanks again Hardline Media for letting us all witness the metal monster that is Nuclear Assault. Maybe Deathrow, Annacrusis, Watchtower or Pestilence next???