NUCLEAR DEATH  Carrion For Worm  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.

It was with 1991's Carrion For Worm that Nuclear Death truly transformed into one of the strangest death/grind bands around, taking the murky, blurred chaos of their previous album and adding in an array of bizarre noises, hideous atonal guitar sounds, counter-intuitive rhythms and some of the most insane vocals that Bravo ever produced for this band. The songs careen through weird tempo changes and stomping off-kilter breakdowns, the blasting deathgrind splattered with Hampson's lysergic solos, which are ten times more crazed and discordant here than on the older Nuclear Death records. On some of these tracks, the band hurtles into passages of such cyclonic violence that it turns into a kind of blackened, gore-splattered noisecore, chainsaw guitars rumbling beneath the overdriven blastbeats and waves of rumbling noise, and Bravo uses extreme delay effects on her voice to produce some truly terrifying psychedelic effects on songs like the discordant, Autopsy-esque sludgefeast "Greenflies". There's a scornful review of this record that was posted by someone on the Metal Observer site that complained about what he perceived as Carrion's utter unlistenability, where he describes the sound of this album to being "like if Blasphemy and Beherit would interpret together some EinstÔŅĹrzende Neubauten songs, and while I'd certainly question his taste, he might be on to something there. There's a weird, experimental edge to a lot of these songs that shows up in the form of that blasting formless guitar noise and the heavily processed effects that the band uses on their instruments and vocals, and it's clear that Nuclear Death were trying to create something extreme and otherworldly here. They definitely succeeded, producing one of the era's most bizarre death metal albums.

In addition to the album, this new CD reissue also features the A Symphony Of Agony and Vultures Feeding demos. The A Symphony Of Agony demo from 1987 is a mix of live and rehearsal tracks, and the sound quality is surprisingly good considering the age and source of these recordings. The live tracks in particular were great to hear, as live recordings from Nuclear Death have always been hard to come by (for me at least). Out of all of these demos, the 1988 tape Vultures Feeding is my favorite; while it has a heavier and clearer recording than the previous demos, the band sounds more unhinged than ever, their chaotic, noisy, sound again bordering on total noisecore, the riffs and drums going in different directions, a spiraling mass of buzzing death metal riffs and caveman blastbeats caught in a vortex.

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 Lori Bravo.