Sound — 8
The unsung thrash B-listers b-listering second album, 1988's "Survive" assured the title of their debut "Game Over" was in no way prophetic. Nuclear Assault were a NYC/NJ crossover band balls deep in metal and hardcore's first cacophonous coupling, alongside D.R.I. and in particular the legendary S.O.D. - NA bassist Danny Lilker's side project with his former Anthrax bandmates, Scott Ian and Charlie Benante. It is Lilker's monstrous bass that serves as "Survive"'s engine, driving the moshing madness while taking the occasional showy left turn. Think Geezer Butler on ritalin. Guitarist/lead yelper John Connelly's unique and sonorous vocals delivers NA's metal-with-a-message lyrics; politically, socially and environmentally astute expressions from the same cut-ups that on previous recordings sneezed such snotty fare as "Butt F--k" and "Hang The Pope" in the faces of the PMRC, The Moral Majority and other self-appointed guardians of good taste everywhere. The speedy yet melodious fretwork of lead guitarist Anthony Bramante and the pounding drums of Glenn Evans aides this apocalypse-obsessed band sound like the end of the world.
Lyrics — 8
NA shared the doomsday concerns that permeated popular culture during the Reagan/Bush '80s. As one can gather from their name, nuclear war and a post-radioactive fallout existence occupied much of Connelly's lyrical content. Also top-of-mind however was personal freedom and a disdain for societal mediocrity. During "Brainwashed", Connelly pleads consumers of dumbed-down media "...Why can't you get that garbage out of your head? You'd be better off to read a good book instead...", while in the anti-racism screed "Equal Rights" he proffers "...Maybe hate will never die, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try."
Overall Impression — 8
Highlights include the opening quintet of tunes "Rise From The Ashes", "Brainwashed", "F#", "Survive" and "Fight To Be Free", though classic mosh-pit riffage abounds throughout this Randy Burns-produced pummeling. "Survive" concludes with a just-for-fun cover of Led Zeppelin's "Good Times Bad Times", bringing the otherwise serious proceedings to close with a bit of cheeky relief. While the overall sound may be considered raw by modern standards, "Survive" is still a powerful and exciting document of a musical form that was harder, faster and smarter than most of the confections that were passed off as "metal" during the '80s.