Instrumental outfit NUCLEAR POWER TRIO announced themselves to the world with 2020’s A Clear And Present Rager, with tongues stuffed firmly in cheeks – as if that weren’t obvious from the EP’s title, song names like Grab ‘Em by the Pyongyang, and the small matter that they had each assumed the identity of a world leader, with Donald Trump on guitar, Vladimir Putin on bass and Kim Jong Un on drums. Because of course. Their mission, apparently, was world peace; three years later they’ve definitely not succeeded, but what they have done is bring forth nine new collaborations between three of the world’s largest nuclear powers. Its name? Wet Ass Plutonium, naturally.
If it isn’t clear enough already, NUCLEAR POWER TRIO is not a serious prospect; as odious as the real man is, it’s extremely funny seeing Trump ripping a flamenco-inspired solo, or for Putin to be playing slap bass in the back of a party limo (see the video for A Clear And Present Rager). That said, they clearly take their craft seriously; in the nearly three years since the release of their debut EP, while the band claim that shadowy forces were holding them back, they’ve also found plenty of time to listen to an enormous amount of synthwave and expand their sonic borders.
In other words, Wet Ass Plutonium has both a sillier name, and a much broader sonic palette than A Clear and Present Rager, successfully one-upping it in every way, including the pun department. Opening on its title track, the band are immediately firing on all cylinders, their fusion-djent hybrid whipping through foot- and fret-tapping antics alike. The musicianship is as absurdly brilliant as ever, packing more notes into a minute than some bands manage in entire albums. So far, so NUCLEAR POWER TRIO.
Apocalypse Mao proudly continues the daftly brilliant puns, as well as the surprisingly memorable hooks; it’s testament to the band’s ability that despite the lack of vocals, they ensure there’s clear, repeated motifs throughout songs to anchor them. Nyetflix And Chill gives the first taste of the trio truly spreading their wings as it introduces a horn section that’s pure party jazz. Anti-Saxxers (Mandatory Saxination), as its name suggests, features some stunning saxophone work that doesn’t just accompany, but frequently carries the melody in its own right. Throughout the album, the neon-drenched aesthetics of its art shine through, with synthwave influences as well as full on synth leads such as Critical Bass Theory where synth and guitar vie for supremacy with earworm hooks.
Frankly, Wet Ass Plutonium, and NUCLEAR POWER TRIO by extension, is preposterous. The musicianship is brilliant throughout, the genre splicing of classical, djent, jazz, fusion and more should fall flat on its face but the trio have the chops and the songwriting nous to make it all slot together in a daft but fun as hell package. Cap that off with the extremely tongue in cheek masks, personas and song names (a close second for the best thing about the album other than the musicianship) and you’ve got an album that’s utterly ludicrous, but so self-aware of its own zany approach and persona that you can’t help but be dragged into it completely. They might not be bringing world peace yet, but they’re definitely bringing one hell of a good time
Wet Ass Plutonium is set for release on July 28th via Metal Blade Records.
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