Nuclear Assault – “Game Over”

dB HoF No. 153

Label: Under One Flag
Release date: October 1986

The description of Danny Lilker as a tall, gangly, extreme-music-obsessed dude sporting a head of frizz and perpetually sleeveless black band shirts is one that has endured time immemorial. This characterization has been a constant through his time in Brutal Truth, Ravenous, Hemlock, Venomous Concept, Exit-13, Malformed Earthborn and any of the four billion other bands he’s played with—not to mention this past April when he was repping for Mikkeller at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest. It was also the applicable depiction back in 1984 when a younger version of the man above was given the boot from Anthrax, the band he formed with one Scott Ian Rosenfeld, a pal from Queens, NY’s Bayside High. A year after his unceremonious dismissal, he and Ian bro-hugged and made up long enough to create Stormtroopers of Death’s cult classic, Speak English or Die. But a side project, popularity aside, wasn’t going to cut it for Lilker, already pegged a metal lifer who needed full-time musical focus as much as he needed air, water and weed. Teaming up with fellow ex-Anthrax-er, vocalist/guitarist John Connelly, the pair formed the core of Nuclear Assault, a band that incorporated musical and lyrical influences from the local New York hardcore scene into a faster and rawer brand of thrash. Once their lineup was cemented with former TT Quick drummer Glenn Evans and lead guitarist Anthony Bramante, the attention that followed their demos (Back With Vengeance and Live, Suffer, Die) and live shows, complete with the growing mythos surrounding their lanky, scene stalwart bassist, a bidding war began with Combat Records earning the right to release their debut, Game Over.

The story of Game Over isn’t one embroiled in drama; this Hall of Fame piece isn’t bathed in an air of “surprised this album was even made, let alone became a classic” in any way. It’s simply a story of four metal loving, blue collar dudes who wanted to write, record and play thrash metal with their own edge. That desire and ethic came through in the scathing, but still melodic, rapid-fire riffs complemented by Connelly’s cloud-scraping vocals, the warm drive of Lilker’s bass, the power of Evans’ trad-metal-influenced battery and the hard rock tinge of Bramante’s solos, which couldn’t be quashed by Nuclear Assault’s need for speed. Consisting of timeless songs like the understated chaos of “Stranded in Hell,” the infectiously catchy vocal/vein-bust of “After the Holocaust,” the slinky speed shuffle of “Sin” and the palm-muted, chug ’n’ crawl of “Nuclear War,” Game Over also featured what arguably became the band’s most notorious moment, the 45-second comedic grind-punk blast of “Hang the Pope” (with the 29-second Agnostic Front-esque rager, “My America,” further embracing their hardcore interests). Wrap it all up in an instantly recognizable and iconic Ed Repka cover art piece and there’s no surprise or wonder about Game Over’s admission into our Hall. Even if the guitars are kinda thin sounding…

Got to get more Nuclear Assault? To read the entire seven-page story, featuring interviews with all members on Game Over, purchase the print issue from our store, or digitally via our app for iPhone/iPad or Android.