Nuclear Assault - Handle With Care
12 songs (35:05)
Release year: 1989
Reviewed by Tony
Archive review

Political incorrectness, insensitivity, and a penchant for success, albeit underrated success. All of these attributes are synonymous with a band formed by legendary bassist Danny Lilker. Many view Lilker’s dismissal from Anthrax as a dastardly measure by the other members of the band, and some even view Anthrax unfavorably. What did Lilker do after he was fired upon release of Fistful of Metal ? He grabbed his bass, surrounded himself with some talented musicians, and formed what rivals S.O.D. as my favorite Dan Lilker project amongst many, many endeavors.

This is Handle with Care, an album whose cover pictures the Earth from Space with a “HANDLE WITH CARE” stamp placed on it. This album marked a midpoint in Nuclear Assault’s discography. Handle with Care also marks what is disputed to be the strongest and most memorable album Nuclear Assault have ever recorded. Rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist John Connelly rounds out the rhythm strings and provides a high pitched, more violent take on Joey Belladonna’s somewhat falsetto vox. Handle with Care was released during a time when the environment took a second seat to the fall of the U.S.S.R. along with other diplomatic and warfare decisions, as well as a massive population increase. This of course, fell to the chagrin of the environmentally concerned people, who would later evolve into psychopaths. Handle with Care marks this turn of events with strong Thrash Metal all around. Some songs display the traits of Crossover, while others sound akin to early Anthrax and still other tracks are heavier than anything Anthrax or S.O.D. have ever conjured.

This landmark in Thrash Metal begins with the guitar intro to New Song before a riff and drum line of great rapidity takes control of your speakers and thrashes them about. Immediately you will notice that Nuclear Assault have mastered the catchy chorus. They do a great job in making each riff and chorus incredibly memorable. For having a no name on lead guitar, Anthony Bramante is very skilled in the type of soloing that Lilker was surely looking for. The same can be said about Glenn Evans’ percussion capabilities. For only having one truly internationally famous musician, Nuclear Assault write and play with astounding skill. Possibly one of my favorite riffs of all time is the intro riff to Critical Mass. This song of course, is one of Nuclear Assault’s most infamous. The chorus not only very gripping but also telling of the numerous disasters arising within the years around the album. Of course, how could a Danny Lilker led band not have his heavily distorted bass wrapped around the production of the album. Here, his bass works perfectly along with each and every riff. Unlike most Thrash where the bass is there to buff the low ends of the guitar, Lilker’s bass is the stalwart, the strength of the album.

Surgery is a song with very heavy drums that give drummer Evans his time to shine. With double bass runs throughout the song, Surgery displays his confidence in his leg endurance. But the greatest strength in Nuclear Assault’s work is their groove. When they dial in that simplistic drum beat with the down picked guitars and Lilker’s bass providing an ominous cloud cover to the lyrical content, Nuclear Assault reach their strength. Many fans view Handle with Care as the finest work in their discography, and a magnum opus for all of Thrash to behold. F# (Wake Up) is a track that shows both sides of Nuclear Assault, the fast and thrashy side, and the groovy and jazzy side. Having these two dimensions makes Nuclear Assault a leading act in the genre, and to have one song encompass all of their power in one makes for a truly killing song.

On Handle with Care, Nuclear Assault show a multi-faceted attack that exhibits not only their instrumental talent but their effective capability to write killer riffs out of nothing. Dan Lilker’s bass is beyond well wrought and is a true highlight to accompany the great lead guitar and rhythm section. Not to mention that Connelly’s vocals are in their prime here. Handle with Care is a true testament to the excitement of Crossover Thrash and is an important staple of any Thrash collection. It will keep you headbanging all day long.

Killing Songs :
Tony quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Nuclear Assault that we have reviewed:
Nuclear Assault - Game Over reviewed by Tony and quoted 92 / 100
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