Nuclear Assault is an American thrash metal band formed in New York City in 1984. Part of the mid-to-late 1980s thrash metal movement, they were one of the main bands of the genre to emerge from the East Coast along with Overkill, Whiplash, Toxik, Carnivore, and Anthrax; the latter was co-founded by Nuclear Assault bassist Dan Lilker, who left Anthrax shortly after the release of their first album. Nuclear Assault released five full-length albums and toured relentlessly throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, and broke up in 1995. The band reunited briefly in 1997 and then permanently in 2002.
Nuclear Assault has released six studio albums to date, the latest being Third World Genocide (2005). Their most successful records are Survive (1988) and Handle with Care (1989), which peaked at #145 and #126 on the Billboard 200 chart respectively.
Early career (1984–1985)
After the release of Anthrax‘s debut album Fistful of Metal, bassist Dan Lilker, a founding member of the group, was fired by the band. He decided to pursue a more aggressive style of music and formed Nuclear Assault with guitarist/vocalist John Connelly, who had been involved in an early version of Anthrax. They were joined by guitarist Mike Bogush and drummer Scott Duboys (later of Cities, Cycle Sluts from Hell and Warrior Soul). They then recorded the first of two demos, which included the songs “Stranded in Hell”, “The Plague”, and “Hang the Pope”.
The group’s first live performance was at the Union Jack in South River, New Jersey in late 1984. Guitarist Mike Bogush was later replaced by Anthony Bramante. Bramante’s first live performance with the group was at L’Amour in Brooklyn, New York in April 1985. Shortly after the performance, Duboys left the band and was replaced by drummer Glenn Evans formerly of New Jersey-based band T.T. Quick.
First three albums and rise to fame (1986–1990)
The second demo Live Suffer Die was recorded and the band began touring the United States consistently. The band signed a multi-album contract with Combat Records and recorded the Game Over album in April 1986, released to critical acclaim later that year. Game Over was followed by an extended play called The Plague, which was released to coincide with a 1987 European tour with Agent Steel and Atomkraft. Later, feeling constrained by their contract with Combat, the band signed with I.R.S. Records and recorded Survive in 1988. The album reached number 145 on the US Billboard 200 chart and Nuclear Assault set off on a 180-day world tour in the United States and Europe; first as an opening act for Slayer and later headlining with British group Acid Reign as a support act. The next album, 1989’s Handle with Care, would see the band at their commercial peak, hitting the US chart at number 126, and peaking in the UK Albums Chart at No. 60, with more touring, including a trip to Japan and a U.S. tour opening for Testament and Savatage. The band released their first live album, Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, in 1990, but internal troubles were causing problems for the band.
Two more albums, departure of Dan Lilker and split (1991–1995)
Constant touring and recording was taking its toll on the band, and there was a rumor that the band might split. The recording of Out of Order was problematic as all 4 members were in the process of making solo projects. Lead songwriter John Connelly was conspicuously absent from the recording process. He only sang on five of the songs and played the guitar on one (Quocustodiat his only full writing credit), leaving Evans and Lilker to do most of the recording alone. Out of Order was poorly received and during the subsequent tour in 1991–1992 there was some line up shuffling – John Connelly moved to vocals only for a time with second guitarist Dave DiPietro joining in 1992. Founding member Dan Lilker departed to concentrate on Brutal Truth and longtime guitarist Anthony Bramante followed by the end of the year.
Undaunted, Connolly Evens and DiPietro recorded the Something Wicked for IRS/EMI in 1993 with new bassist Scott Metaxas, the title track featuring in the film Warlock: The Armageddon. Reviews again were somewhat unfavourable, as Nuclear Assault struggled to adapt to a less thrash friendly music scene. After touring Europe and the US for much of 1993 the band returned with a new line up of Dave Spitz on bass and a returning Anthony Bramante, joining Connelly and Evens for more North American touring before slowly coming to a halt in early 1995.The band contributed their take on Die Hard for a Venom tribute album in 1995 before calling it a day.
Nuclear Assaults classic lineup later reunited for one concert in 1997 (put on by Eric Paone of ‘Candy Striper Death Orgy’ in New Hampshire) then, two more shows the following year with Eric Paone on bass guitar in New England before parting ways a second time.
Nuclear Assault in the 21st century (2000–present)
The classic line up reformed once again in 2002 to perform at the Metal Meltdown and Wacken festivals and subsequently recorded a live album entitled Alive Again, Bramante leaving for the last time and adding guitarist Eric Burke in time for several European tours, first with Testament and Death Angel in, then with Exodus and Agent Steel both in 2003. A new studio album entitled Third World Genocide followed in 2005, with yet more touring, including a South American tour with Death Angel. and a headlining European tour. The band released the Louder, Faster, Harder DVD before more US touring in 2006.
From 2007-2012 nuclear assault occasionally played shows, returning to Japan and South America along with a guest appearance at the Maryland Deathfest and at the Metal Merchants Festival in Oslo, Norway, in January 2011.
In 2013, it was announced that Nuclear Assault was working on a new album, which was due for release in 2015. They released an EP on June 1, 2015, titled Pounder, which featured “four killer old-school thrash” songs written by Dan Lilker and John Connelly. The band embarked on the “Final Assault” tour to support the EP in 2015-16. Despite this, Nuclear Assault still performs live with new drummer Nic Barker making special appearances and travelling to countries they have not previously played.