|When bassist Dan Lilker was kicked out of Anthrax in 1984, he decided to form his own band. Together with John Connelly (vocals, guitar), Mike Bogush (guitar) and Scott Duboys (drums) he started Nuclear Assault. From 1986's 'Game over'to their 'third World Genocide're-union album in 2005 Nuclear Assault recorded six studio records plus various live albums and compilations. Danny Lilker also played on S.O.D.'s legendary 'speak English or die'album (as well as on 'Bigger than the Devil'from 1999 and 'Rise of the Infidels'in 2007).
Nuclear Assaut should have made it big but history was not kind to them. However, Danny Lilker is not bitter: 'I think we were too hard-edged and intense. Slayer got huge but they were more straight-up metal than we were. I think our hardcore-influenced sound was a bit much for fans of Anthrax and Testament. For those people, Slayer was the 'hardest' band they could tolerate.?
As mentioned above, Lilker formed Nuclear Assault in 1984: 'I found myself 'unemployed' in late January 1984 and I started putting together Nuclear Assault in February. It was a bit of a shock getting tossed from Anthrax, especially when it was like three days before 'Fistful of Metal' came out, so I felt a need to get back on my feet after this unexpected occurrence. I basically took a shitty situation and turned it around, saying 'OK, well, now I can form my own band'."
In no time Danny was able to get together a strong line up: 'John Connelly was in a very early version of Anthrax as a vocalist, so I knew he was available, and I knew he was a guitarist as well. Actually, at the very beginning, we looked for someone just to do vocals, but that never ended up happening, so John took on vocal duties as well. As for the other guys, we went through a few line up changes before we got Anthony Bramante in the summer of 1985 and Glenn Evans in late 1985. We found these guys through the scene, our old drummer Scott Duboys brought Anthony on board, and when Scott didn't work out, Anthony introduced us to Glenn.?
According to Danny, John Connelly was very important for Nuclear Assault: 'Yes, he wrote a lot of music as well, in fact, he ended up doing most of the writing in the later years due to the fact that my growing fascination with more intense music was making it difficult for me to write thrash anymore. As for the other guys, Glenn wrote a few tunes as well, and Anthony contributed some riffs here and there, but it was mostly John and me.?
While Nuclear Assault was just getting off the ground, Danny got the offer to play on S.O.D.'s 'speak English or die'album: 'I recorded the S.O.D. album in the summer of 1985 when Nuclear was still just writing music and playing shows here and there. This was also before the familiar line up that people know as Nuclear Assault. S.O.D. didn't take up a lot of time, there was a quick songwriting session in April 1985, the album recording in July, and a few shows later that year. Not too time-consuming.?
Shortly thereafter, Nuclear Assault signed to Combat Records on strength of their "Live, suffer and die" demo tape (which is to be found on 'Atomic Waste: Demos and Rehearsals?): 'I can state this is true. Our deal with Combat also came about from having the label manager see us play live as well. We were lucky to be based in NYC where labels like Combat and Roadrunner were located, so that helped a lot too.?
In contrast to most of the traditional metal bands active in 1985, Nuclear Assault's lyrics partly dealt with social topics. A trend later to be copied by bands such as Sacred Reich and the whole British Grindcore movement inspired by Napalm Death: 'Our influence were mostly hardcore bands, and then just life itself once we realized that we could have realistic lyrics and play metal. I've heard of French band Trust of course, but they were not an influence, and I had no idea that they were a socially aware band. The whole reason we started writing realistic lyrics after being exposed to hardcore was that we knew these lyrics had much more impact than some swords and sorcery stuff. And the reason why was that we were talking about real life issues that affected everyone. So, when shit like the Fukushima reactors going thermal and leaking radiation occurs, it just drives that whole concept home.?
On the other hand, Nuclear Assault were also famous for their short fun songs like 'Hang the Pope', 'My America'or 'Lesbians'. Danny says: 'We didn't see any reason not to have a little fun now and then. A lot of metal bands seemed to take themselves very seriously, which we thought was a little silly. This might have been a result of our influences from hardcore. Not that hardcore was funny in general, it was more about the spirit of having a good time and not being a rock star. Talking of 'My America', that song was specifically about a fictional columnist in the 'Weekly World News' named 'Ed Anger', who had a column called 'My America' and just talked a lot of shit about foreigners etc. He began a lot of his columns talking about how he was 'pig-biting mad' about this or that. It was a sarcastic tribute.?
Closely associated with the New York City Hardcore movement of the early 1980's, Lilker also played together with Craig Setari (Straight Ahead, Sick Of It All, Cro-Mags) in Crab Society and formed Brutal Truth. Especially Crab Society was quite an obscure side project: 'that just started as a fun noise project by me and Craig Setari, who has been in as many NYC hardcore bands as I've been in metal bands (almost). Our 'Noise for Noise's Sake' demo was done shortly before S.O.D. went up to Pyramid Sound to record 'Speak English or die'. During down time at the studio, I played it for the other S.O.D. dudes, and they thought it was hilarious, to the point where they wanted to be involved, so we did The Crab Society North demo up there just as the members of S.O.D. The 'North' reference has to do with the fact that Pyramid Sound is located in Ithaca, NY, which is north of NYC.
So, it didn't have much to do with Nuclear Assault, except for the fact that John did guest vocals on one of the songs on the recording that Craig and I did.?
'Atomic Waste: Demos and Rehearsals'comes in both formats, vinyl and CD. The vinyl edition consists of 13 songs including such classics as 'Hang the Pope'or 'the Plague'. The CD features a further 10 bonus tracks consisting of rare instrumental rehearsals. Three of those (unnamed) bonus tracks never made it onto any Nuclear Assault album or EP.
Get your dose of hardcore-influenced metal New York style. 'Atomic Waste: Demos and Rehearsals'is a piece of metal history.