When I received the self-titled debut from Nuke, I was quite impressed with their “mature” speed-metal approach. I was even more impressed when I realized the band was conceived in 2014. However, the members of Nuke are by no means newbies to the metal scene; each having multiple active projects. And it shows. Though many of their projects are not speed metal, they have the formula down pat; from clunky, neanderthal riffs to a raw, raunchy production straight from 1983. If you are looking for groundbreaking speed metal, Nuke doesn’t have it. But it is exactly what you want from a speed-metal record and it has become the rebellious soundtrack to my sultry weekends. Once spun, you begin to hear the rolling thunder of domesticated, metal-head dads everywhere. They all roll out of bed on a Saturday morning, raise middle fingers to their front yards, and tell that unkempt grass to go fuck itself. Shoddy boots, faded blue jeans, black leather jackets, and 6 a.m. beers are what you need, gentlemen. Oh, the kids want chocolate chip pancakes? Fuck that. The car needs washing? Bullfuckingshit it does. The recycling needs to be taken out? Actually… you should do that. You need room for all your empty Natty Ice cans. So, shotgun a beer, piss in the kiddy pool, and crank this shit up until your grass bursts into flame [AMG Industries does not endorse this kind of “speed metal parenting.” – Steel Legal Eagle].
Well, seeing that my family hasn’t spoken to me in a week, it seems the appropriate time to delve into this debut from Detroit’s Nuke. I wouldn’t go as far as calling Nuke an “all-star team” of elite musicians, but Hells Headbangers fans will already know most of the lineup: vocalist Richie Riot (Shitfucker), drummer Tony Kaos (ex-Shitfucker), and guitarist Mike Tuff (Acid Witch). OK, so you may not recognize their names exactly because the band has chosen to adopt middle-school monikers for Nuke. But Shitfucker fans will most definitely recognize Riot’s voice (especially the “clean” vocals on “Murder Troops”), and possibly find his meaner, tougher approach for Nuke quite pleasing. But for Acid Witch fans, recognizing Tuff’s guitar work will be quite difficult. The speediness of Nuke is a stark contrast to the stoner doom of Acid Witch, but that’s what makes Nuke so much fun.
And the band shows their fun side right away with the introduction to the opener, “Nuke Me Baby.” After warning the country of the addictive effects of the new drug, “Nuke,” the Surgeon General is gunned down at his press conference. As the crowd begins to scream in the aftermath, the band has successfully set the mood for the adventure about to unfold. The gallop is chunky and filthy, and the vocals have everything from uncontrolled gruffs to nasty Cronos rasps to high-pitched wails reminiscent of Annihilator‘s Randy Rampage. The high-pitched shrieks, in particular, are far from outstanding, but this variation gives songs like “Marching Undead” and “The Queen” more character. Especially when compared to the straightforward Motörhead-ish “Metal Inferno” and Venom-meets-Darkthrone “Flame of Desire.”
Speaking of Motörhead, if there is one Nuke track to listen to, it’s “Hellrider.” This six-minute track is fucking stacked. After the initial Motörhead groove and Lemmy-like vox subside, the band settles into a crushing, mid-paced speed-chug perfect for Riot’s barks of “we must ride… straight to hell.” And, as the song’s monstrous riffage heads to its conclusion, the main riff reappears once more for a massive finale. Follow-up “Dead Space” has its own stellar moments, but in a completely different way than its predecessor. After opening with a foot-stomping introduction, the song transitions into Iced Earth-era thrashiness; resulting in some of the tastiest licks and hardest hitting drum work on the record. Closer “Murder Troops” also navigates through this barrage of variation, rounding out the album beautifully. Built on a foundation of Motörhead, this massive closer hints at subtle melody, drops in some clean-ish vocals, and unleashes solos galore. It’s the kind of song you would want the band to end a show with.
Unfortunately, Nuke is not perfect. But I don’t think it was ever intended to be. There is no new ground paved, there is no innovation, and there is nothing here that would convince speed-metal haters to repent. But that’s why I love it. It’s lo-fi, nasty, loud, and it’ll give you a headache after three consecutive spins. So, throw back a few more beers, turn this up to eleven, and don’t forget what I told you about the trash.