Survive was the second full-length studio album by the East Coast Thrash Metal band Nuclear Assault, released in 1988, following up on 1987’s excellent The Plague EP and their classic 1986 debut album Game Over.
Nuclear Assault are a superb band that every Thrash fan at least has to try out and whom many will love. The band featuring Dan Lilker of Anthrax, S.O.D and Brutal Truth on bass. Their lyrical style is a mixture between occasional humour and primarily socially conscious or political themes.
They play a Thrash Style closer to D.R.I than to Slayer, but still big on guitar solos and speed and unmistakably on the Metal side rather than on the Punk side. They are big advocates of gang-chanting backing vocals and alongside their Thrash, add in some almost ahead-of-their-time grooves and some proto-grindcore bursts of blasts occasionally as well.
This is one of the most overlooked and underrated Thrash albums of all time in a way, as it has in a sense fallen into obscurity due to a lack of reissues over the years, but in another way it is a cult classic and is beloved and spoken fondly of by many true fans of the band and the genre. No Nuclear Assault concert after this album’s release would ever be complete without at least a quarter of the track listing making the set.
Stylistically, it is something of a midway point for the band, sitting less in the crossover/punk scene than the band’s earliest days, but not as fast and heavy as the band’s more extreme follow up album ‘Handle With Care.’ This allows for a memorable and diverse set of well-written and expertly performed songs, which is improved upon yet further with a slightly better production job than their previous work.
Songs like the single ‘Brainwashed,’ ‘Rise From The Ashes’ and ‘Fight To Be Free’ are some of the bands most memorable and enduring tracks, and tracks like ‘PSA’ and the Led Zeppelin cover add variety to the album, keeping the otherwise concise and focused thirty-minute record from sounding too samey.
If you can get a copy of it, and you like the band or are a fan of Thrash in general, this is a seriously enjoyable album that you really ought to at least check out. It isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes, for example some people seem not to care for John Connolly’s vocal style, or dislike the Crossover influence, or find the political lyrics a turn-off, but if you suspect you might like it then I’d urge you to give it a shot. Its been one of my favourite albums for long time, to the point of having owned multiple t-shirts sporting it’s artwork and having an extra signed vinyl copy mounted on my wall for decoration.
In summary, Survive is a concise yet interesting album full of memorable songs which sits at an interesting moment in the career of a greatly under-appreciated band who Thrash Metal fans should really consider checking out.