As someone who grew up listening to thrash in its 1980’s infancy, there were always bands in and around that genre you thought would make it big but never quite reached the level of The Big Four. Overkill, Testament, Sacred Reich and, of course, Annihilator. With “Alice In Hell” and “Never, Neverland” I was convinced band leader and main songwriter Jeff Waters had crafted albums that would see him headlining big venues before long. However, things never quite exploded like they should have done. Whether it was the band’s deliberate lack of image, the wrong tour support slots or the fact that they weren’t pure thrash and were, in fact, more diverse and interesting than some of their peers, they were destined to remain also-rans.
Having steadily produced albums in a low-key fashion in recent years this latest offering kicks things up a gear and puts recent Megadeth and Metallica releases to shame.
Kicking off in familiar style with the chaingun riffing of ‘Deadlock’, Jeff is back in business and doesn’t let up. ‘No Way Out’ pounds in familiar fashion with a cheeky guitar/drum syncopation that hooks you right in. The punky ‘Smear Campaign’ and the funky ‘No Surrender’ add a little colour but never stray too far from the path of righteous chugging and determined thrashing.
‘Perfect Angel Eyes’ is a standard power ballad and sits a little awkwardly here but doesn’t drag the album down, then ‘Demon Code’ and ‘Fight The World’ soon see us back in thunderous metal territory with the latter being the most unashamedly old school thing Waters has produced in ages.
As is traditional with most Annihilator albums, the lyrics are a little cheesy and obvious but we’re not here for moving poetry or deep political insight; we want all the riffs, and they’re here. A fine 8 tracks with a dodgy ballad and all is well in Alice‘s former home.
But wait….there is a bonus disc included here entitled “Re-Kill” – 15 of Annihilator‘s early classics re-recorded with extra punch. Some folk may not always think there is a good reason for bands doing this, but 1) it’s a free bonus 2) the tracks sound incredible 3) some early Annihilator stuff is hard to get hold of on CD and 4) shut up.
So, if you’ve never heard Annihilator, this is a great place to start and if you’re a long-term fan you will not be disappointed. Mega, Jeff.