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Annihilator - "Feast (Deluxe Digipak)" (2-CD Set)

Annihilator - "Feast (Deluxe Digipak)" 2-CD Set cover image

"Feast (Deluxe Digipak)" track listing:

1. Deadlock (4:23)
2. No Way Out (5:20)
3. Smear Campaign (4:16)
4. No Surrender (5:37)
5. Wrapped (3:48)
6. Perfect Angel Eyes (4:27)
7. Demon Code (6:22)
8. Foght the World (6:55)
9. One Falls, Two Rise (8:33)

Reviewed by on November 12, 2014

"On each song after a minute or so... OH SHIT IT’S TIME TO THRASH!"

Annihilator: everybody’s favorite opening band. Originating in Canada probably has something to do with that, but if anybody knew that the group has been going for 20 years or sold well north of 3 million albums, then gold star for you. The rest of us know Annihilator as a great band to see at 2pm on Sunday as we hair-of-the-dog away our festival haze. This is a shame, as Jeff Waters – the leader and only constant for all 20 years – has released 14 (!) full-length albums, all of decent to strong quality. “Feast” is no different.

“Feast” is full of familiar, take-no-shit thrash. Example: leadoff track “Deadlock” has a riff that was created by smashing Slayer and Testament licks together. This thrash mashup continues the whole way through – mixing Megadeth’s melodic sensibilities, Testament’s rhythmic sensibilities, Queensryche’s anthemic prog sensibilities and Slayer’s straight forward sensibilities, “Feast” is a well, feast, of fist-in-the-air choruses, air-guitar solos, and neck-snapping riffs, even if they all resemble certified successful thrash tropes.

This isn’t to say Waters just rips off other great thrash bands. Rather he knows exactly what it takes to write a strong, brutal and uncompromising modern thrash album, and has done exactly that, even if it sounds like other bands that also write good thrash.

However, Waters has done it while keeping to a distinctly Annihilator sound that's been sharpened over two decades and fourteen albums. Certainly the above thrash legends are clear audible influences, but at some level that doesn't matter - the solos squeal like flying pigs, the vocals command from on-high and the rhythms incessantly pound. One fun idiosyncrasy is Waters’ intro licks. Long rumored to be a ghost writer for other genres like country (gasp!) and pop (on no!), Waters likes to stick a seemingly random lick in the front of some songs. The “No Surrender” intro might as well be off Gary Hoey’s “Endless Summer II” scrap table, while “Fight the World” has a melancholy intro that he learned in Eric Johnson’s “Guitar Virtuosity for Rainy Afternoons.” But on each song after a minute or so Waters returns to base and... OH SHIT IT’S TIME TO THRASH!

Other notable notes: the production and the mixing are both top notch - unsurprising since Waters owns his own studio. “Feast” does get somewhat tired toward the end as Waters packs the three longest songs into the last three slots on the album; by the time “One Falls, Two Rise” comes around he’s run out of tricks and recycles his best ideas. The Deluxe Digipak version has two bonus discs: “Re-Kill” is eleven older Annihialtor tunes re-recorded with Waters’ muse and vocalist for the last decade, David Padden. Neat for completists. The second disc is a DVD of Annihilator’s 2013 Wacken set. With the endless supply of live video available on the interhole, this is also neat for completists.

Now four hundred and thirty four words into this exercise and there still isn’t anything interesting to say about “Feast.” And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Classic re-recordings off “Re-Kill” clearly shows Annihilator has been an extremely consistent and strong thrash band for two decades. The new material on “Feast” proper is all the proof you need that - not shockingly - Annihilator still is.

Highs: Brutality and melody condense and combine on “Wrapped” and make it excellent.

Lows: The longer tracks at the end of album get lost in Repeated Riff Land.

Bottom line: Another strong showing from Canada’s top-selling metal band of all time.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)