NUCLEAR DEATH  Bride Of Insect + Demos  CD   (Dark Symphonies)   12.98

Finally, we get some high-quality CD reissues of the early Nuclear Death discography, featuring the same material featured in that massive four-LP boxset that came out a couple of years ago, spread out across two CD releases from the recently revived Dark Symphonies imprint. These discs are a marked improvement over the previous CD reissues that came out in the early 2000s, now pairing up the albums with additional demo material that further fleshes out each pustulent period of Nuclear Death's evolution into the psychedelic vomit gods we know and love. And man, this stuff still sounds as extreme as ever. Coming out of Phoenix, Arizona in the late 80s, Nuclear Death stood out in the burgeoning extreme metal underground with a twenty-something girl named Lori Bravo on vocals and bass who sounded like hell unleashed, her voice swooping from monstrous guttural growls to bizarre wordless vocalizations to killer falsetto screams. Backed by drummer Joel Whitfield and guitarist Phil Hampson, Bravo led the band through an inchoate nightmare of grinding, ultra-noisy death metal that started off as a more thrash-influenced sound, but which had evolved into one of the weirdest death/grind bands of its era by the release of their legendary 1991 album Carrion For Worm.

I still remember when I first saw the ad for Nuclear Death's Bride Of Insect when it appeared in a 1990 issue of Metal Maniacs, I could barely take my eyes off of the grotesque hand-drawn artwork depicting a clan of irradiated abominations surrounding a withered hag licking the slop off of some mutant infant, a huge skull-faced spider-like monstrosity hovering over them. The band name and that artwork suggested that Bride held sublime sonic horrors, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. The album's twelve songs featured a slightly less chaotic version of Nuclear Death's psychotic bestial death metal, but this stuff was (and is) still plenty bizarre, the songs whipped up in a nail-studded whirlwind of sloppy blastbeats and murky riffs, the songs spinning off in weird off-kilter anti-grooves and angular breakdowns, while Lori's awesome, seething vocals echo through the band's cyclonic violence, with some subversively catchy hooks lodged like stray bits of bone matter in these chunks of blackened grind. Tracks like "Necrobestiality", "Feral Viscera", "The Misshapen Horror" and the title track continue to evoke the band's unique nightmare visions of rotting bodies fused together in dripping carnal combinations, mutant birth-sacs and surreal sexual depravations dredged from the deepest recesses of the human psyche. The combination of ripping thrash riffs, Scum-level chaos, and sludgy discordant death metal is intense to say the least, but compared to the delirious sonic vomit that would follow, this is probably their most straightforward work.

In addition to the album, this new CD reissue also features the Wake Me When I'm Dead and Welcome To The Minds Of The Morbid demos. 1986's Wake Me When I'm Dead was the band's first recording, and it features five tracks of thrashing cavernous evil that has more of a traditional thrash metal sound than their later stuff, though these tracks still have that signature unhinged quality that infects all of Nuclear Death's material. The same goes for the Welcome To The Minds Of The Morbid demo that followed the next year, which has a number of songs that would be later re-recorded on their debut album; you can really start to hear the band growing more maniacal on this demo, though, as the thrash metal riffs and the drumming are continuously pushed into the extremes, the band striving for ever faster, ever more violent velocity, with songs like "Cremation" and "The Third Antichrist" delivering some amazing blasts of chaotic grind, and some weird touches like the robotic devil-vocals on "A Dark Country".

An essential collection of some of the most chaotic, brain-scrambling and utterly filthy extreme metal ever unleashed, this also includes the original album layout and artwork, and comes with a twelve-page booklet with lyrics, flyer art, band photos and new liner notes from Michele Toscan from Nuclear Abominations and Lori Bravo.