Nuclear Power Trio – Wet Ass Plutonium Review

I know this looks like the daftest thing imaginable, but stay with me here: this is actually brilliant. I have no idea what led to one pun escalating quite so far out of control, but here we are: the Nuclear Power Trio. Three guys in terrifying dictator masks, playing Latin fusion instrumental metal, brilliantly. Three years ago I loved their EP A Clear and Present Rager, which brought me in with a comedy video and immediately gripped me with the quality of the music. Wet Ass Plutonium is their debut full-length. Does an instrumental band teetering on the edge of being a novelty act have a full album in them?

Fortunately, as I have already spoiled, the answer is a clear yes. For all the silly theming, there’s serious musicianship under the masks. Wet Ass Plutonium demonstrates some clear growth over A Clear and Present Rager. The core elements of Nuclear Power Trio’s sound are still here: lyrical, triumphant guitar leads, scorching slap bass, and complex, energetic drumming. But here, they lean harder into the Latin fusion. There’s the brass embellishments on “Nyetflix and Chill,” sax on “Anti-Saxxers (Mandatory Saxxination),” and the flamenco introduction to “¡Vamos, Brandito!”. At the same time, they add a twist of Miami synthwave in a way that suggests they’ve been hanging out with the Night Flight Orchestra (“Critical Bass Theory”). There’s also a couple of unexpected classical references (the harp on “Air Force Fun,” and classical guitar opening to “Red Scare Bear Stare”). All of this feels like a completely natural part of their sound.

Wisely, this is a short album, clocking in at 37 minutes. It’s enough to play with the new elements to their sound without overstaying their welcome. There’s only so many soaring guitar leads a person can stomach. Keeping the length down minimizes this issue, and the embellishments from other genres stop the songs blending into one another too much. Not everything quite works—for example, the slower midpiece track “Snark Side of the Un” is a little hit and miss, and closing track “Red Scare Bear Stare” doesn’t go as hard as the rest of the album. But honestly, this feels like nitpicking. My biggest gripe here is the production. While not bad per se, at a DR5 it’s very squashed. The instruments don’t pop in the way I want, and I found it got very muddy when I tried listening on my general-purpose headphones, with drums and bits of the bass getting lost.

The production issues are particularly disappointing because the performances here are absolutely stellar. Vladimir Putin on KGBass (hah), who allegedly also moonlights in Job for a Cowboy and Havok, is particularly brilliant. Honestly, I weep for all those albums where the bass is consigned to a barely-present rumble. Putin will of course not be sidelined, and Nuclear Power Trio put the bass front and center as an instrument in its own right where it belongs. A naturalistic bass production without too much distortion helps the nuances of the performance come through. Meanwhile, Donald Trump on guitars (also of Allegaeon, apparently) turns in one glorious lead melody after another. Kim Jong-Un on drums (also joining Putin in Havok, it seems) delivers complex drumbeats and catchy fills.1 A number of guitarists from other acts (including Chris Broderick, formerly of Megadeth, and Scott Carstairs of Fallujah) show up for a range of well-fitting guest solos, though I don’t know whose is whose.

Despite a couple of minor complaints (which I shall file from a safe distance and then wear gloves to open my door), Wet Ass Plutonium is a roaring success. Don’t be fooled by the silly masks and (hilarious) puns: they’re an excuse to play some genuinely great music. It’s triumphant, catchy, and just a whole heap of fun. If you can listen to songs like “W.A.P. (Wet Ass Plutonium)” and not feel the (nuclear) energy, I don’t know how to help you. Who says metal has to be serious?

Rating: Very Good
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 28th, 2023

Show 1 footnote

  1. I had a debate with my partner about whether this is technically a supergroup. I say no, on the grounds that none of their promo material acknowledges their other work.
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