I feel sorry for people that do not have a burning desire to listen to music at any point they can. You know the type? They say “I’m bored” or “Oh my, that’s long time on a bus or train?” True music lovers see that as a perfect time to get into a new record, or listen in full to an old favorite, yes? Ok, with you esteblished as one of those people, now I can move to this question – You know those albums that you can’t stop thinking about? You have heard it a few times already and you just want to listen again and again? You are at work and thinking about it. You’re at dinner with the parents and thinking about it. You are maybe even, listening to another record, and thinking about it? You do!? Well, how about a new one of those? Ladies and Gents, Annihilator‘s latest album, “Suicide Society”.
Annihilator really are the poster boys for the definition of underrated. Rather, main man Jeff Waters (songwriter/guitarist/sometimes-lead-vocalist), is underrated. Yes the band have a couple of entries in all the countdowns of the best Thrash albums ever made (debut “Alice In Hell” and sophomore, “Never, Neverland”) and have shifted three million albums in total over fifteen studio albums, which is no mean feat for a Thrash Metal band that has never softened their sound.
After losing the bands longest serving vocalist, Dave Padden in 2014 after eleven years and several great records, Waters auditioned a few vocalists but decided he would do it himself, as he had done twenty years ago, and with fantastic results.
Before the release, via YouTube updates, he had promised that the new album would be “something quite different” and, in all honesty, it actually is. He has, for the most part, backed off the Thrash pace and gone for some groove but, it does, more importantly, very much still sound like an Annihilator record. Melody is still upfront hand in hand with agression and the guitar playing is technical and creative whilst remaining interesting and hooky. Waters is up there with Mustaine for making sure that just because he can shred, he doesn’t forget the heart of the song itself.
There is some sublime moments in ‘My Revenge’, when it gets all atmospheric and clean guitars chime and jangle. The verse guitar riff and vocal line is almost a carbon copy of ‘Damage Inc’ by Metallica, and it is not an accident, he is being blatant, that’s for sure. The lead breaks are incredible here too.
‘Snap’ is as commercial as it gets and it hits the spot. Such a great song with a creepy atmosphere, a big poppy chorus and it still manages to be heavy as a really heavy thing.
‘Narcotic Avenue’ sounds like if Motley Crue had decided to go one step heavier than they did on “Dr Feelgood” and upped the pace and become a Thrash band. The mind boggles.
‘Death Scent’ seems a bit throwaway but then from leftfield, a wonderful mid-section opens up before the song goes hyper-fast and we are treated to more tasty solos.
Across the album’s nine tracks you feel that Waters has been very strict with the quality control, perhaps why only nine tracks made it, but if you’re honest, how many records do you own would be much better if some of the fat was trimmed off? I’d rather be left wanting more than wishing for something to end. Remember, in the golden age, Metal records only needed eight to ten killer songs and you never felt short changed. That old quality over quantity cliche rings true, huh?
I’m pretty sure that I have seen various members of Trivium wear Annihilator tees and you can hear perhaps a reverse influence with final track, ‘Every Minute’ which is the best song that Matt Heafy hasn’t written. This track is also the ninth demonstration of why Waters should just remain on vocal duties. He has a perfect voice for this type of music and is also very versatile.
I really hope that this record is high up on the end of year countdowns because it is fully deserving. Rather annoyingly so, I am now going to have to dedicate a lot of time to re-discovering Annihilator‘s back catalog, oh well then…