Someone's gonna literally have to shit in my mouth between now and December 31, 2005, to disappoint me more this year than NUCLEAR ASSAULT has. I've been looking forward to another album of blistering, humor-laced, neck-snapping thrash from these guys ever since the day I heard they were getting back together, and after digesting the spoiled meat that is "Third World Genocide", I'm gonna have to just keep on waiting. What the fuck happened here?First of all, if you're only interested in the speedy fare of classics like "Game Over" and "Survive", go ahead and reduce that rating above to a big fat zero. It's as if the band is deliberately not playing fast much here, out of some misguided attempt at "maturity" or something — and that would be fine, if the songs actually went anywhere. Presumed first single "Price of Freedom" boasts an inexcusably generic chorus, with a tacked-on midsection that doesn't mesh with the rest of the song at all. "Living Hell" is a long, long slog through barely-there riffs, topped off by a particularly anemic vocal performance from John Connelly, whose oddball bleating shriek has deteriorated to a gurgling, out-of-breath wheeze. "Defiled Innocence" and the wretched "Glenn's Song" are further examples of bloated, lethargic crap-rock passed off as prime NUKE. There are a lot more guitar solos here than in the past, but they have the effect of stretching the songs out, seemingly there to pad out the album length, give Connelly's throat a rest, and cover up the lack of ideas. I can't stress enough the slipshod, thrown-together, grade-D songs on "Third World Genocide" — you could take every riff here and maybe put together one song worthy of inclusion on "Survive" or "Handle With Care". It's not a question of evolution — they're just doing what they used to do back in the day, only about a thousand times shittier. "Human Wreckage" and "Eroded Liberty" are at least fast, and they find NUCLEAR ASSAULT at their most engaged, but both tracks are still filler by the band's own past standards. And man, the novelty stuff stinks to high heaven — "Long Haired Asshole" is not only unfunny, it was done better when Connelly released it on his solo album — fifteen years ago! (And way to be topical by not even attempting to update references to the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1980s.) "Whine and Cheese" may be the band's all-time Hall of Shame moment (and that includes anything on 1993's disastrous "Something Wicked", a record that doesn't seem so bad after hearing this one) — a lackluster punk-rock crock with coffee-mug-worthy lyrics delivered in a cringe-inducing sneer. Don't tell me I don't "get it" — this song is a heinous piece of shit on the level of QUORTHON solo albums and Geddy Lee rapping, end of discussion. Calling this one of the worst albums of 2005 is all the more embarrassing and painful given the band's stellar pedigree, their general coolness as human beings, and the fact that I'm one of many who cut their teeth on NUCLEAR ASSAULT back in the day. But suck it does, and bad — it lacks any redeeming qualities, save the faint hope that it'll maybe get the band back out on tour before this threadbare reunion runs out of fumes and stalls out, sending these coasting thrash pioneers on the first city bus back to their day jobs.
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