Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nuclear Assault - Live at the Hammersmith Odeon (1992)

Live at the Hammersmith Odeon is one of those 'late to the party' live efforts which was released at a point where it was incapable of making its maximum impact on the band's following. Recorded in 1989, at a gig the band played in England with other greats like Dark Angel and Candlemass, it features a group on the verge of releasing their most successful effort (Handle With Care), playing for one of their most supportive international audiences. It was also put out by a number of the band's affiliates (Relativity, I.R.S. and Roadrunner/Roadracer) so clearly there was some push to sell the thing. Unfortunately, Live at the Hammersmith Odeon was not about to impress anyone, because it sounds like shit.

Or, more specifically, the guitar tone sounds like ass, enough that it completely crippled the experience for me. Now, I've seen the band live on several occasions, since the Northeast US was a hot spot for their gigs and they had an avid following (New York and New England, specifically), and whilst I can't claim that they lit me on fire with envy at their performances, they certainly sounded superior to what we have here.The guitar tone just feels too loud and crunchy, as if its always about to cut out, and sometimes the notes feel as if they're being warped. Not to mention that the balance between Connelly and Evans is just ugly, with lots of annoying squeals and other bullshit. The rhythm section is fine, you can't make out every nuance in Lilker's playing as well as you might like, but Evans at least sounds clear. As for the vocals, they're good enough at conveying the inflection on the records, but lose a bit of their luster. It's the 'crunch' that truly pisses me off, making the tunes that were new here (like "Critical Mass") sound like the unpolished crud that hangs from the lips of a public toilet.

Doesn't help that the band also included a sort of 'medley' of their lame, brief grind tunes here. Yes, tracks 9-13 concern every trifle the band ever thought was funny or clever, and while 1% of the audience might have found it amusing in their rabid devotion to the New Yorkers, it seems like a throwaway opportunity. "Mother's Day", "My America", "Lesbians", "Hang the Pope" and the stupid "Funky Noise" should all have been lifted from the set and replaced with "Brain Death" or "The Plague". Or, for fuck's sake, how about "Brainwashed"? It's nowhere to be found here. Too much emphasis on Handle With Care. "New Song", "Critical Mass", "Torture Tactics", "Trail of Tears", none of which sound up to snuff. Why include "Butt Fuck"? Or "Good Times, Bad Times" when you've got some searing originals to foist upon the blokes across the pond who've been waiting for your gigs. They do include "Survive", "Nightmares", and "Game Over" but that's not enough to save this unbalanced set from the swill.

To me, this just reeks of capitalizing on the logo of a pretty popular thrash act, otherwise it might have been more confidently issued shortly after the gig, like their European tour video a few years prior. The set's no good, the songs sound a little ruddy, so all Nuclear Assault are able to impart here is their presence and discernible level of energy. Do not waste your own tracking this down.

Verdict: Fail [3.5/10]

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