Our top ten Nuclear Assault songs list looks at the work of a thrash metal band who were part of the East Coast scene along with the likes of Overkill and Anthrax, the latter of were formed by Nuclear Assault bassist Dan Liker.
Formed in 1984, Nuclear Assault enjoyed much success during the golden age of thrash period from the mid-eighties to the early nineties. Their debut album Game Over was released in 1986 to both critical and commercial success. More success followed with the next two albums that they produced.
Nuclear Assault were known for their relentless touring which ultimately took its toll on the members. The recording of their fourth album Out Of Order was very troubled due to all of the members being involved in other projects and thus not being fully invested in the recording. In particular, frontman John Connelly was largely absent, only performing on five of the album’s songs. When the album was released in 1991, it was a commercial and critical failure and Dan Liker left soon afterward to concentrate on the grindcore band Brutal Truth. They recorded one more album titled Something Wicked which was also rather badly received, with the band struggling to stay afloat due to the decline in popularity that the thrash metal genre was facing. They officially disbanded in 1995.
In 1997, the classic line-up reformed for a one-off show and played two more the following year. Although this did not lead to a full reunion, the band reformed in 2002 and after recording a live album titled Alive Again the band toured with several of their thrash peers, several of whom had also recently got back together after the genre had experienced a resurgence in interest. In 2005, they finally released a new full-length album titled Third World Genocide. Although they have yet to follow this album up, Nuclear Assault is still in existence, performing live from time to time. Here is a list of their ten best songs.
# 10 – Third World Genocide
Kicking off our top ten Nuclear Assault songs list is the opening title track from the band’s comeback album released in 2005. It was their first since 1993 and the first album that bassist Dan Liker had played on since 1991. It is so far their last full-length album, with their most recent recording being an ep titled Pounder released in 2015.
# 9 – Something Wicked
Next on the list is the title track from the band’s unsuccessful fifth album released in 1993. It is the only Nuclear Assault album not to feature Dan Liker and was the final album of their initial stint together. The sound of the record was a departure from their usual hardcore thrash sound and saw them attempting to adapt to the groove metal sound that was becoming the new popular style of metal at the time. A music video was produced for this song and it was featured in the 1993 film Warlock: The Armageddon and many years later was featured in the 2017 remake of It.
# 8 – Pounder
Up next we have a track from the band’s most recent recording, the Pounder ep released in 2015. It was their first ep since 1988 and the first thing that they had recorded in a decade since the release of Third World Genocide. Due to the largely inactive status of the band as a recording outfit, they have yet to follow it up with another release.
# 7 – Fashion Junkie
Our next track is taken from the fourth Nuclear Assault album Out Of Order released in 1991. It was Dan Liker’s last album with the band until Third World Genocide. This is the best track on an album that was not very successful for reasons discussed in the introduction of this article. This is one of the five tracks that John Connelly was involved in.
# 6 – The Plague
Ending the first half of this list is the title track of the band’s ep released in 1987. As their name would suggest, Nuclear Assault’s lyrics have often dealt with apocalyptic themes (making them scarily relevant to current times) and this is one of those songs. The “plague” in question appears to be caused by human beings as the lyrics talk about “a government that sponsors death.”
# 5 – Cross Of Iron
Beginning the second part of this list is a track taken from The Plague. This was a collection of old and new material. This track was originally meant to be the title track but was not because of fears of protest that may have come from religious groups. There was another track on the ep that has a title unprintable for this site which was a serious dig at Motley Crue’s Vince Neil and how he got away with drunk driving in an incident that killed Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas Dingley.
# 4 – Survive
This next song is the title track of the band’s second album released in 1988. This was the album that is considered to be the band’s breakthrough record as it was the first that reached the Billboard charts where it reached number 145. It was generally received well critically, being considered to be a strong record in the thrash scene.
# 3 – Hang The Pope
At number three is this track taken from the band’s debut album released in 1986 titled Game Over. This track is borderline grindcore, predating the kind of thing that Dan Liker would go on to do in Brutal Truth. This is emphasized by the fact that this song lasts just forty -two seconds long. It is almost comparable to what the likes of Napalm Death were doing at the time.
# 2 – Brainwashed
Just off the top spot is this song that is also taken from Survive. It is about how people in the thrash metal scene feel alienated from mainstream society. The line “Why don’t you think yourself?” spoke out to a lot of the band’s fans. It talks about how bands in the genre find it hard to get their music heard because of how the general public listens to what it is fed to them in the mainstream media.
# 1 – Critical Mass
Toping our Nuclear Assault songs list is one of the band’s best-known songs from their third album Handle With Care. This is the band’s most successful album reaching number 126 on the Billboard charts, a position that they have yet to beat. This song was released as a single. Critical reviews for the album were also generally positive.
Feature Photo: S. Bollmann, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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