Nuclae: A Conversation with Ex-Integrity Guitarist Aaron Melnick About His New Musical Project

Thanks to his guitar work in Integrity from the late '80s into the late '90s, Aaron Melnick was one of the architects of the metallic hardcore sound as we know it today.

Coursing with thrash and speed metal, Japanese hardcore, and early US hardcore-like grit through its veins, Melnick's guitar style has influenced countless bands throughout the years including Cursed, Pulling Teeth, and Rise and Fall. 

Outside of his time in Integrity, the Ohio native has also played in such bands as In Cold Blood, Inmates, Shin to Shin, and Die Hard.

In his latest musical project, Nuclae, Melnick is charting musical stylistic directions. Not to worry, his infamous guitar style is prominently on display throughout Bringing Out the Beast, Nuclae's debut 10-song collection, but the record finds him taking his time, letting the arrangements build and destruct at their own pace. Acoustic guitars, hushed vocals, and doom-kissed passages also find their way into the sonic world created on Bringing Out the Beast.

Today, I'm psyched to share a conversation I had with Melnick about Nuclae, his upcoming sci-fi book, and his thoughts on the influence he's had on heavy music.

What is the Nuclae genesis story? I first heard about it was via an email from Dwid.

Nuclae first became an idea for me when I started writing science fiction about towards the end of the time I was in Integrity. I wondered what would happen if the genetic code would become fully malleable in a culture's hands and started writing about a group of people that could change their DNA at will. I named these people the Nuclae.

Fast forward to about 2018 and me, my brother Leon and Rob Orr had been working on other projects together and we naturally started playing a heavier yet eclectic style with lyrical themes that I had explored in my writings. This became the band Nuclae.

What stylistic influences did you specifically pull from when you were formulating the writing approach? One can identify your sonic DNA in there either way.

Our style is rooted in classic metal and heavy hardcore but we tried to fuse some other styles into some of the songs. Folk, goth, and even some noise were mixed in. I listen to movie soundtracks, and music from all over the world as well as newer hardcore and metal, so I am sure that all of these elements have had an unconscious effect on our style.

You’ve built up an interesting discography throughout the years. Where does this new project fit in? Do you feel it’s scratching a certain itch you haven’t approached yet?

Doing guitar and vocals is fresh for me so I can play around with new themes musically and I really enjoy that. Though this band has some obvious similarities to early Integrity stylistically, I also tried to draw on some more eclectic themes. Some of the songs are heavy, some clean.

I feel that all the songs on this project are darker than anything I have done since the Integrity days. It was also cool to work with Dwid again as he sings vox on one of the songs and I appreciate the power and professionalism he brought to the table. 

Tell me a bit about this companion book you’ve also been working on.

The book is about addiction which is something that I have struggled with in my life. The short science fiction novel explores the idea of addictions becoming sentient and taking over people's personalities. This is rolled together with the back drop of technological human hegemony trying to eradicate the Nuclae (genetically edited people) counter culture.

It is dark and has aspects of horror mixed into it. It is explores possible futures and is a warning, not only technologically and culturally, but also personally as there are always repercussions for one's actions.

What’s next up for Nuclae? Can we expect more music, perhaps, live performances?

I am currently working with a live band and we are going to play shows starting in 2024. There are both more songs in the pipe for Nuclae and I have more ideas for other projects. 

I’m not saying you invented guitar dive bombs, but whenever you hear them done in the Integrity-like style you put on the map, what goes through your mind? As a matter of fact, your whole riffing style is also quite influential. Are you aware of the many bands that you helped influence along the way?

[Laughs] Let's give Side By Side and Randy Uchida [G.I.S.M.] credit for the dive bomb. I love listening to both old and new hardcore whether it be more metallic or just straight old school. I don't concern myself with how large my shadow looms on hardcore genres, but I appreciate when I hear something that seems to share lineage with an idea whose genesis I was a part of.

During the last few years, hardcore has had a new renaissance and that means a lot to me and I am excited if people think that I have influenced some of the great bands and songs that I hear coming out these days.

Also, my brother, Leon Melnick's heavy and tasteful bass playing is just as important to the early Integrity sound as well as many of the other projects I have been involved in. Just wanted to give him a shout out.

Integrity @ Middlesex County College, NJ, 1994⁣. (Photo: Justin Moulder)

Thanks, Aaron for the chat and let's catch up again soon and talk music again.

Thanks Carlos and No Echo for always having our backs. We love and appreciate the support you give to us and other bands in underground music genres. Look for more Nuclae in 2024, and if you are a reader, check out my book.


The Bringing Out the Beast vinyl and t-shirt pre-order is up now via Rebirth Records.

Nuclae on social media: Instagram


Tagged: integrity, nuclea