Jul 032023

For some of you, and especially those who frequent the grimy vermin-ridden squat occupied by this site, your first exposure to the music of Nuclear Dudes might have been “Manifest Piss Tape“, the first single from the project’s forthcoming debut album Boss Blades, which we covered here. But some other possible exposures preceded that one (the Gin and Panic and Bad at Sleep records released last year) and one other has followed it (another single from the new album, named “Year 3“).

If you’ve caught up to any of this so far, you already have a pretty good idea that the new album is going to be a sonic whirligig that’s perilous to life and limb (and sanity) no matter how tight you strap yourself in. And so it is — “a manic mix of extreme metal, synth-prog, powerviolence, and industrial noise” (to quote from the press materials), or as framed by Jon Weisnewski, the person behind the project, “a wild-eyed response to the question ‘What if Carcass and Gary Numan were locked in a studio and had to figure out how to make a record together?’”

Weisnewski‘s name alone draws attention to the album, given that he’s the front-person of the notorious Seattle bands Sandrider and Akimbo. So does the name Dave Verellen (from Botch), because he makes two guest vocal appearances on Boss Blade — and Dust Moth’s Irene Barber joins in on a track too. And speaking of Dave Verellen, one of the songs on which he contributes is the album’s title track that we’re premiering today.

Photo by Maria Alcantara

Nuclear Dudes is one of the few silver linings around the toxic cloud of covid. Shackled by the lockdowns, Weisnewski started making music on his own, very different from that of his usual bands. Using only guitars and a laptop, he cooked up those first two releases on his own, but also wanted to bring other talents into the process. As he tells us:

“Even though Nuclear Dudes is a far-too-indulgent solo experience, I really want to push it into more collaborative territory with other artists that I respect. This album is the first attempt at bringing others in to test the waters with some guest vocalists, and when it comes to screaming on top of loud nonsense I think Dave Verellen might be the best to ever do it. When I asked him if he’d help on a few tracks I had no idea the Botch reunion stuff was in the works and very naively thought “I bet he doesn’t have much going on with music right now?” I’m so pumped it worked out. His growl is so iconic!”

Boss Blades” also comes with a video, and a crazy one it is. To quote Jon Weisnewski again (with tongue in cheek): “It may be shocking, but despite the varnished sheen of professional gloss in each and every frame, the video is a completely DIY project that I threw together at home. My art director was an 8 year old boy who likes to draw weapons.”

In most respects, from the live shots of Weisnewski and Verellen to the graphic embellishments, the video is wild, and often humorous. And in some respects, the same is true of the music — but it’s also violent, and it makes a few unexpected turns that aren’t remotely funny.

After the crazed keyboards in the opening (which make a few later reappearances), the song erupts in a burst of battering, brawling, and torching belligerence, a grindcore tirade made even more furious by the screaming tandem of Weisnewski and Verellen‘s vocals and by intervals of bullet-spraying percussion and pile-driver thuggery.

But then comes the first twist, as the swirling keyboard surfaces and then leads the music off into a phase of glimmering mysterious brilliance, mesmerizing notwithstanding the strident yelling in the distance. And then comes the next turn, a punishing descent into stricken bleakness. Slower than before, the grooves pound even more ruthlessly, and the guitar moans in agony and wails its affliction. The vocals are still strikingly intense, but now seem intensely tormented rather than enraged. At the end, there’s one final cataclysm of chaos waiting for you.

In other words, for a song that’s just a few seconds over two minutes long, this is indeed an instrumental, vocal, and emotional whirligig:

So now, along with “Manifest Piss Tape” and “Year 3“, you’ve got three tangible signs of what Boss Blades (the album) delivers. But we’d also like to share the words of our friend Cat Jones about other musical experiences on this 12-track record:

While Weisnewski describes most of the album’s lyrics and song titles as “nonsense,” there are a handful of poignant moments buried deep within the silliness: “Lasers In The Jungle” sees him and Verellen avenging Carrie Fisher by skewering Paul Simon’s attempt to gaslight her in the lyrics of “Graceland.” The synthy, almost doom-like track “Many Knives” employs the crystalline voice of Irene Barber (Dust Moth), whose lyrical metaphors of floating knives beautifully describe the feeling of being stuck and seeing painful outcomes no matter what move you make. And the album’s most outwardly reflective track “Guitart” adds saturnine acoustic guitar under a sample of Grace Jones musing about gender and sexuality in an ‘80s interview – at least three decades before that topic reached mainstream culture. The album concludes with the slow-building, ambient turmoil of “A Special Torture,” gracefully reining in all the chaos of Boss Blades and giving it a solemn sendoff.

Boss Blades was written and recorded by Jon Weisnewski with the exception of the guest vocals by Dave Verellen and Irene Barber, which were recorded by Matt Bayles at Litho Studios in Seattle. The album was mixed by Matt Bayles and mastered by Ed Brooks at Resonant Mastering. Cooper Weisnewski gets credit for the cover graphic.

Boss Blades will be released on cassette and digitally on this coming Friday, July 7th, by Modern Grievance Records, and you can pre-order it now:



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