Review Summary: Nuclear Death are bizarre, dissonant, disgusting and original old school death/grind. Their debut "Bride of Insect" is the first chapter in their legacy of filth.
Nuclear Death were an extremely interesting and bizarre early death metal band from Phoenix, Arizona. Their style borrowed from grindcore and other super fast genres of the time often dubbed as 'speedcore', 'fastcore', 'thrashcore', etc. Needless to say this stuff was played at breakneck speeds. But don't let that fool you into thinking this is some run of the mill death/grind that's fun for a few minutes for being brutal and fast but wears thin after a short while. Nuclear Death had an strange, dissonant, intense and challenging style that endured through three legendary albums.
Between 1986 and 1989 Nuclear Death released several demos, ultimately resulting in them being signed to the California based cult underground death metal label Wild Rags Records. In a 26 hour recording session they churned out what would be one of the most disgusting and dissonant releases ever seen in death metal: Bride of Insect. Nuclear Death's debut basically serves as a culmination of their efforts over four years of demos, combining death metal, grindcore and thrash metal elements into a super fast sickening stew tinged with the sludgy dissonance and strange songwriting that made a name for them in the underground metal scene.
Guitarist Phil Hampsen and bassist/singer Lori Bravo were the main songwriters for the bulk of Nuclear Death's material. Their signature sound is characterized by low end filthy distortion ringing out with a dissonant tone (the word dissonant will likely appear dozens more times in this review, as it's perhaps the best way to describe almost every aspect of this band) and then blasting into a speedy churning cacophony. All Nuclear Death releases feature low, mucky and excellently filthy production (a characteristic seen frequently in Wild Rags Records releases). The drums beats are mostly blasts at high speeds, but not pure gravity blasting like in some modern brutal death band. They have more rhythmic elements and primitively bash in the not-quite-blast paced sections. On their next two albums they would expand on bringing in doomy/sludgy breakdowns and psychedelic interludes/instrumental pieces, but at this stage they were establishing the core elements of their sound, and what a sound it is. Nuclear Death are so bizarre and disgusting that no band I know of could hold a candle to them, except perhaps death metal legends Autopsy.
Lori Bravo's vocals are especially of note. Upon first listen most will think "Wait, that's a chick? Are you sure?" But really she has more range and a much more interesting style than any male death metal singer I've heard. She goes from her signature higher yells with speedy delivery and strange eccentricities to lower death metal grunts she would expand on in later releases, and all kinds of weird ass sounds in between. Added to the fact that she's the bass player and one of the primary songwriters, she's quite a woman...
Nuclear Death are one of my absolute favourite death metal bands. They're original, strange, dissonant, brutal... God I love em. It's no wonder that they were the star band of Wild Rags Records, ferociously promoted in their flyers and 'zines. Bride of Insect is a key release in the mighty legacy of death/grind masters Nuclear Death, and I recommend it to any fans of old school death metal, grind, etc. It's a shame that they aren't held to the paramount heights I see them in by more death metal fans, which has partly to do with the obscurity of their releases. Even the CD reiussues of their albums are long since sold out. Thankfully today we have the internet to spread around disgusting obscurities like Nuclear Death. Check it out.