Somewhere along the anthropological evolution of metal, way back there in the mid 60s, in the city of Detroit, resides the MC5. A band full of Motor City grit, shotguns, a whole bunch of drugs and a desire to blow up the fucking system. A desire which landed the band in hot water during race riots and sent founding members to prison for las drugas. Regardless of their eventual fate, Wayne Kramer (a tough guy icon for young Jews across America) introduced an attitude that would go on to effect American rock n’ roll and heavy music for generations to come.
Detroit was a hot bed, and has always been a hotbed, for some of the more raucous, unforgiving and uncompromising rock n’ roll on the planet (maybe tied only with Japan). Other bands emerged from the members of the MC5. Iggy Pop & The Stooges got their start in Detroit. Grand Funk Railroad as well. It’s that type of balls-to-the-wall rock n’ roll, with a hefty blues influence, that eventually gave birth to traditional heavy metal and eventually extreme metal. So, the metal community, as a whole, has plenty to thank Detroit for aside from muscle cars (even if their more recent output has been depressingly commercialized). In that vein, Nuke has come along to breathe fire onto the corroded foundations of Detroit’s music scene.
Taking inspiration from a combination of Motörhead and Iron Maiden, Nuke fire off some straight ahead rock n’ roll-laced traditional metal with ripping blues soloes, whiskey soaked vocals and plenty of galloping guitar harmonization. The band is a concoction of hard-working and somewhat well known musicians. Handling those gravely vocals is Ritchie Riot of Shitfucker (ex-Shitfucker guitarist Tony Kaos is also on board for the project handling rhythm). Mike Tuff of Acid Witch, Harbinger and Temple of Void steps in on lead guitars and provides some insight into just how wide his breadth of skill is. Providing dissonant bass lines is Redbeard of Reaper and on the kit is Sweet Pete of Perversor. Yet, for all their experience and diversity, Nuke doesn’t really seem to take inspiration from any of those acts. They are a beast of their own making.
The fifth track, “Dead Space,” feels more the most like an Iron Maiden homage with the guitars harmonizing in pure “epic” fashion and the bass adding tasteful dissonance. Further, the soloing departs from the more typical blues-focused runs and tears into some heavy metal flourishes. Proving that Mike Ruff can truly play a ton of diverse styles. Yet, for all the Maiden worship, the gruff vocals and gritty production bring to mind Grand Magus and their epic-journey style of metal. And nowhere on Nuke is that style, and the vocal influence of Portugal’s Ravensire, more apparent than the seventh track, “The Queen.”
The second track, “Metal Inferno” is full of blatant Motörhead worship in all the ways that will warm the inside of your whiskey-soaked heart. From the onset of its pacing to the tough guy posturing combined with the classic blues pattern chord progressions it’s a track that will inspire the donning of leather and the firing up of motorcycles. The track also contains harmonized guitar lines (as do many of them) but here, they harken back to Ireland’s premier rock act, Thin Lizzy. Similarly, “Hellrider” is a balls-to-the-wall anthem full of crunchy guitars, blistering drums and contain the album’s most hook-laden and catchy vocal patterns.
And this review would be a travesty without mentioning the closing track, “Murder Troops.” With vocals enticing the listener to join in on this murderous adventure and guitars playing blistering descending runs in perfect rhythm and harmony only enhancing the straight-forward, gallop feel of the double bass. The track is probably the best example of their speed metal influences. Nuke isn’t a retro band. They aren’t a band harkening back to a better time. They are simply pouring out what is inside their souls; using their instruments as a manner of conveyance.
Nuke comes across as five buddies hanging out in a garage, writing songs that they love to perform, tossing each other lukewarm beers and truly enjoying each other’s company. Usually the hallmark of a “fun” band, the camaraderie is palpable across the self-titled, debut LP. Their tracks, even those that exceed five-minutes, are straight to the point. From the guitar playing to the rhythm section to the vocal abilities of Ritchie Riot, Nuke delivers an LP hellbent on full metal warfare in a mix of traditional styles. It’s another boost in the musical history of Detroit Rock City. A place that seems to thrive artistically during its harshest of economic times.