NUCLEAR REVENGE – Dawn of the Primitive Age (2021)REVIEW

Hailing from the Basque Country capitol and conjuring a sophisticated earliest form of thrash metal’s Teutonic dance with black metal extremity in tow, Nuclear Revenge arrive upon their second album likely having gotten the point loud-and-clear that their otherwise enthusiastic fanbase can indeed identify ‘Pleasure to Kill’ as a major influence upon their riffcraft. What the band themselves and thrash metal fandom keen to the greater lineage of the artform knowingly nod at is this sense that once you’ve identified one component the whole beast has yet to be revealed, as was the case when similarly influenced bands such as Hypnosia and Nocturnal sprang up in the late 90’s just before the boon of wanna-thrash began to include similar blackened-lite affect — They’ve got more up their sleeves. This web of very specific Kreator influence is itself an unofficial niche that catalog scourers and web-crawlers have been conscious of for decades, be it ‘Final Holocaust’ or the latest Maligner record, anyhow, the point to be made here is that it is a fantastic place to start but there must be some innovation (or, iteration) with purpose beyond the massive ideal presented by an obviate early Kreator influence. These Euskadi folks certainly did not get enough credit for the value of their debut full-length ‘Let the Tyrants Rise‘ back in 2018 and well, probably solely because they’d released it in the second week of December, a peak time of year for the overwhelmed press and apathetic holiday season. For their second album, ‘Dawn of the Primitive Age‘, they’ve certainly not run out of their potent classic thrash obsessed riffs but Nuclear Revenge have leaned more into tremolo-bound leads as a way to corrupt the insistent voices of comparative Hell-hounds and tribute an even broader set of evil thrash mastery.

Since I do not have the band’s demos readily available and ‘Let the Tyrants Rise’ really does speak for itself as a brazen, riff-gunked mayhemic thrash metal debut it makes sense to more or less dive beyond a history that is uncomplicated into a review that will largely be uncomplicated. The one caveat I will give is that ‘Pleasure to Kill’ is one of my all time favorite records so, everything about this band’s structural housing is coded in my own native riff language. To top it off these tremolo-fed guitar leads I’d referred to almost directly relate to the style of ‘Seven Churches’ and often function in the same way with “Summon the Nameless Ones” featuring as the most shining example. Fans of Chilean black/thrash and modern Teutonic black/thrash which leans towards classic forms will likewise feel right at home within the burning furor of opener “Agonic Tormentor” kicks in; Not only are Nuclear Revenge aware that folks recognize their Kreator influence but they’ve actually pushed it to an extreme that is often even more technical in terms of sheer riff numbers and change-ups, keeping a breakneck pace and giving it more of their own over the top spin. I fully respect any band that makes me want to whip out ‘Terrible Certainty’ and Possessed in the same day. From there “March of the Undead” presents something slightly new for the band, a few hits of direct black metal riffing not unlike former Undercover Records labelmates Nocturnal Witch wherein the traditional heavy metal aspects of certain second wave artists lines up with the “thrash/black not black/thrash” paradigm exactly right, crossing the line while adding variety to the brief and rapid fire blast that is this record.

“Dust” is probably the only song on here that leans into that ‘Seven Churches’ speed metal simplicity too hard, if only for how deep into the record it is. Considering the forceful nature of the prior four pieces, this one is the first to land as just another black/speed metal song. The reprisal of “Dawn of the Primitive Age” is all the more strong for striking hot after “Dust” wheeling into its main riff around ~1:13 minutes in and stabbing right for the neck with a couple repetitions and then promising to circle back several more times. I could, and did, sit with each of these songs several times paying close attention to the riffcraft and appreciating the guitarist’s dedication to old school evil thrash patternation while identifying which parts were “borrowed” subconsciously and which represented a grand extension of a classic idea fed into their diabolic wind tunnel of riff. The gist of my analysis of this album ends up being that much of what Nuclear Revenge does is particularly good because it speaks to the best traditions of extreme thrash metal without trying to infuse modern trends. It is an album for the riff obsessed purist by riff obsessed purists and it speaks directly to an underfed niche of evil thrash metal. The argument for following them from album one through album two and beyond is this sense that these guys have gotten better at the kind of leads/solos they want to hear, they’ve packed their songs with the kind of riffs that are damned exciting to them and this makes for a ride with believable and appreciable passion applied. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (77/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Dawn of the Primitive Age
LABEL(S):Awakening Records [CD]
Helldprod Records [LP]
RELEASE DATE:April 30th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Blackened Thrash Metal

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