What scathing, torrid madness is it that drives the suggestion of hope for the detritus of society among us? The same bastard children who were ogling bumfights, citrus parties and spinning meat two decades ago now manifest today as the last generation truly touched by freedom of LSD and the mania of focused influence, rather than the strictures of our Ingsoc-esque totalitarian internet worshiping, culturally brazen, soft-balling reality today. There is no mental peace for the idiot children of 2019 and this is their own rightful inheritance whether they see it as a gift or not. Every option is available for the artist now, here in a time where there is no chance for comfort without abject denial of the thin bubble surrounding whatever rickety, corrupt empire controls them. When the ‘mash-up’ is tired in the minds of discouraged potential, and the beer goes nauseatingly warm, some kind of freedom erupts from the subconsciously defeated guitarist that’d succumb to himself and the ragged dystopian bricklayer within. Unless you know this feeling of succumbing to the dissonance of the self, of knowing the defeat of towering limitations and the listless psychosis that comes with believing in no infinity outside of the void of space, you may not be ready for Baltimore, Maryland progressive death-thrashers Nuclear Tomb.
On the other hand, if you’re deeply invested in the progressive thrash metal movement of the late 80’s and the horror of death/thrash hybridization that approached in tandem, ‘Succumbing’ is an impressive introduction to a band who would whirl deathly filth into flurries of anxietous space-ripping thrash. Somewhere between the knowing churn of Coroner‘s ‘No More Color’, the cruel speed metal punch of early Pestilence (see: “Admission of Guilt”), and the crookedly flamboyant aggression of Voivod circa 1987 (“Cull the Flesh (Succumbing)”) nestles Nuclear Tomb‘s core sound. That isn’t to say this is puritanical old school ‘retro’ scene thrash but you’ll hear as much ’88 Megadeth (“Trespasser”) in their roll as you will the frantic jaunts of Teleport or Revocation. Nuclear Tomb‘s own reduction of approach, the description of a middle ground between Motörhead‘s seminal speed metal defiance and the playful rhythmic provocation of King Crimson, suggests attitude and feeling drove these compositions from above imitation, though other influences do appropriately express.
Where Nuclear Tomb does differentiate in style isn’t as important as the fact that they do so with adventurous attitude, a variable set of moods and tangents able to express violence and psychotropic exploration in separate-but-intersecting bouts. “Ashen Lamb” is the prodigy expression in this sense as it begins sounding like an early track on Infected‘s ‘Dark Century’ then death ‘n thrashes its way towards a righteous Obliveon-esque finale. The effect isn’t necessarily the ‘thrash metal’ version of Horrendous but, I’ve no doubt the more Nuclear Tomb trust their ears for catchiness and otherworldly aggression these ideas have just as much potential energy to distribute. Beyond my expected ramblings on its esoteric valuation, this is an album of riffs; Clever ones with psychedelic hooks and brawny, Pabst-crushing heft where technique actually enhances the melodramatic uncertainty of it all. Guitarist/vocalist M. Brown employs a fantastic ruggedness in either performance that is equally imposing and mystifying. ‘Succumbing’ is a point of perfection in this sense as the fine line between discordant noise rock hammering and homespun, hard-rocking technical thrash metal are blurred in the punkish, punching roar of Brown‘s guitar tone.
Because its trance increased with every listen, and its feeling was evident from the first, I can highly recommend Nuclear Tomb’s debut EP. For preview I’d recommend “Trespasser” if you want to jump right to where I really sunk into the release initially. If you’re ready to get right to the technically rapacious points of interest on ‘Succumbing’ either “Admission of Guilt” or “Cull the Flesh” will convince tech-thrashers and old schoolers up front.
Separate the flesh from the bone. 4.5/5.0
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