A metal world might not be so anxiously awaiting another album from thrash pioneers Annihilator anymore. After hitting it big with “Never Neverland” and “Alice In Hell” albums, there have been some underrated masterpieces such as “King Of The Kill” but at the same time they were followed by equally unimpressive efforts like “Remains” or “Schizo Deluxe”.
On their last album “Metal” (2008) Waters proved his writing pen had remained sharp, and the band received critical praise as well as promising reviews from fans. That record showed the group was back on track. So the promise of a new product seemed to hold more ground, and calling it simply “Annihilator” also raised the bar just a tad. Usually this kind of thing means a somewhat defining statement. On the other hand, many times bands call their albums after their own name simply because they cannot come up with a title. Either way, one is hoping for a lot when sliding this particular disc into the player.
“The Trend” opens the album in typical Annihilator fashion. The album cover proudly states the record contains 66 solos. Well, I didn’t count them but there are plenty of them indeed and Waters plays with his usual classic style. Speed and melody take turns, and overall the leadwork is certainly very impressive. The seven minute opener certainly rams the point home – Annihilator are back!
There’s even a hint of punk edge on “Coward” – not unlike Slayer’s “Undisputed Attitude” some 15 years ago. My current favourite song from the album, “Betrayed” follows. This is classic Annihilator with neck snapping rhythm and a chorus to die for: “Betrayed – like a rat!” Vocalist David Padden also delivers great performance here. “Nowhere To Go” delivers surprisingly melodic chorus backed with mid-tempo rhythm. Elsewhere “Death In Your Eyes” also sways with slow burning riffs and a great licks from Waters while retaining a modern Annihilator-touch.
Finally there’s the interesting cover version of Van Halen’s “Romeo Delight” – a not well-known number from the “Women And Children First” album originally released in 1981. This party metal anthem works surprisingly well as heavy metal arrangement. I think I’ve heard the song maybe once in its original form, but after this spin, the chorus certainly got stuck in my head. Not bad.
Waters’ trademark guitar style naturally dominates but with him, the long time Annihilator-man David Padden on vocals sounds like his usual menacing self. These guys form the nucleus of the band, behind them drummer Ryan Ahoff pounds solid rhythm. This time, aside from few backing vocalists there are no special guests involved. Thus the album sounds tight and focused. Some of the past material from Annihilator has had the tendency to go from left to extreme right too fast. There is variety on “Annihilator” as well, but the main culprit is fast paced metal – as it should be. The tracks work together and it feels like a record and not a string of tunes put one after another.
The cover artwork is typically morbid, depicting an evil looking girl very much in The Exorcist-vein. Similar pictures are found inside the booklet. Whether this is the same girl already featured on the “Alice In Hell” album is anyone’s’ guess. I wouldn’t bet against it.
The album comes in a limited edition box, which is quite stylish and besides the actual CD contains a key ring, pins and stickers. None of the bonuses are essential in strictly musical sense so you might want to stick with the usual jewel disc.
Annihilator continues their successful resurgence and has delivered another very good, sometimes excellent proof of their abilities as pioneers in the classic thrash metal scene. If you have been somewhat sidelined by this band of late, this is something you could very well check out.
1. The Trend
5. 25 Seconds
6. Nowhere To Go
7. The Other Side
8. Death In Your Eyes
10. Romeo Delight