Where experience, melody and thrash equal consistency and class
The last release from long running Canadian thrash/groove metal outfit Annihilator was quite an ambitious move on the band’s behalf, and one that worked as much as it failed.
The concept of collaborating with a host of guest musicians, making a conscious effort to return to a more thrash orientated thrash and titling the album Metal was an ambitious move. And while the album was a good solid effort, the polished production, and Annihilator’s familiar inconsistent song writing held the album back from really standing out as a genuine classic in their vast catalogue of releases.
Three years on (which in the meantime saw the band released their live D.V.D. Live at Masters of Rock in 2009), and Annihilator (who this time around comprise vocalist Dave Padden, guitarist/bassist/group founder Jeff Waters and drummer Ryan Ahoff) are back with their 13th studio effort, which is simply self-titled.
With every new Annihilator album, you’re never really quite sure what you’re in for, given the groups previous rather hit and miss efforts. And given the direction the band took on Metal, their latest effort could have been pushed more toward the melodic side of things, or ventured into even harder and heavier territory. In a way, Annihilator does see the band incorporate both of the said directions style wise, and in a way that is for the most part the real success behind their latest release.
The opening track The Trend is easily one of the strongest songs the band has put together in years. From its gradual two minute build up of melodic guitar work, The Trend eventually settles into a fast thrash tempo, with Waters’ trademark sound dominating proceedings. While Padden’s presence in the band have divided some fans, he certainly earns his place within the band here, with the mix of his melodic tone and his brutal growling proving just what the song requires with great success.
Following in the same thrashing-like fashion is the equally impressive and intense Coward, the quickened pace of Ambush and the mid-paced groove of Betrayed, all of which add up to one hell of great start for the album.
Unfortunately, 25 Seconds provides Annihilator’s latest effort with its first real misfire. Although sounding interesting with its duality in slower bass driven passages and fast paced aggression moments, the song just doesn’t seem to gel all that well as a whole, and there’s a few lyrical lines that are genuinely cringe worthy enough to make you want to skip the track altogether.
The follow up tracks Nowhere to Go and The Other Side (which sounds reminiscent of Diamond Head’s Am I Evil? in the riff department) are good strong efforts, and showcase the band’s melodic edge within their modern thrash groove direction of late, while Death In Your Eyes and Payback venture more into the heavier side of things.
Finishing up the album is the band’s cover of Van Halen’s Romeo Delight. While I am a fan of Van Halen, and the band’s cover does do the classic justice, its inclusion isn’t one that enhances the album as a whole. Just why they decided to tack this on the end is anyone’s guess (and that’s a bit of the way it feels), but the album would have maintained a greater feel of consistency had they not included this song.
In the end, Annihilator’s latest effort is one of the band’s stronger efforts, a definite step up from their last couple of efforts, and a thoroughly enjoyable album that deserves as much attention as recent thrash releases from the likes of Megadeth, Overkill, Testament and Exodus.
(Earache Records/Riot! Entertainment)