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Annihilator - "Annihilator" (CD)

Annihilator - "Annihilator" CD cover image

"Annihilator" track listing:

1. The Trend (7:04)
2. Coward (4:22)
3. Ambush (3:22)
4. Betrayed (4:34)
5. 25 Seconds (4:49)
6. Nowhere To Go (5:08)
7. The Other Side (4:20)
8. Death In Your Eyes (5:58)
9. Payback (4:48)
10. Romeo Delight (4:26)

Reviewed by on June 22, 2010

"Their self-titled 13th album is the biggest shocker of the year; not only is it a fantastic thrash record, but guitarist Jeff Waters finally comes out of his shell and puts on the performance of his career."

Annihilator seemed destined for success back when “Alice In Hell” came out in 1989. An inconsistent line-up and the 1990’s hit the band pretty hard, as they faded into obscurity with the advent of grunge and nu-metal. Over the past couple of years, the Canadian thrashers have seemed to make the attempt to reignite their career with several decent performances. 2007’s “Metal” was a tiny misstep, as the overabundance of guest musicians and lackluster songwriting hurt the final product. Their self-titled 13th album is the biggest shocker of the year; not only is it a fantastic thrash record, but guitarist Jeff Waters finally comes out of his shell and puts on the performance of his career.

Past albums have had a few noteworthy guitar moments here and there, but this album takes Waters’ playing to a whole other galaxy. The solos are technical and masterful, an exhibition of how truly gifted Waters is. Picking a favorite one is next to impossible, but a few standout performances include the two-minute introduction shred-fest on epic opener “The Trend” and the finger-tapping madness of “25 Seconds.” The solos aren’t the only improvement, as the riffs have a lot more force behind them. “Ambush” and “Payback” are throwbacks to the early days of the band, with razor-sharp intensity and fist-pumping melodies.

The ten tracks could have been nothing more than lifeless numbers meant to be a haven for Waters to lay down wicked solos, but the songwriting is top-notch the whole way through. These songs are lightning fast and infectious as hell. “Betrayed” might be the catchiest song Annihilator has ever written; its simplistic chorus (“Betrayed…like a rat!”) screams crowd participation. The longer songs may start out mid-paced, but at some point, the thrash elements come into play. There is at least one moment in every song that will stick with the listener when everything is said and done.

While Waters is the main man behind Annihilator, handling all guitar and bass work, vocalist Dave Padden can’t be tossed aside. He has lasted longer than any vocalist in Annihilator to date, and while he started out on a sour note, Padden has gotten better and better over time. This is his best performance to date, barring a few cringe-worthy harsh vocals in “25 Seconds.” The clean vocals on “Nowhere To Go” are effective, as is the sneering attitude he gives off on “The Other Side.”

Good thing his vocals are crisp, because the lyrics are terrible. The line, “Hey man I think they're having a sale down at Hot Topic let's go!,” off the opening track, rivals Megadeth’s classic “Nice story, tell it to Reader’s Digest” line from “Sweating Bullets.” Relationships, violence against others, abuse and bucking musical trends are a few of the subjects discussed. Lyrics has never been a strong point of Waters, and with laughable lines like the one above, that doesn’t change on their self-titled affair.

A couple of awkward vocals and lyrics can’t bring down what is Annihilator’s best effort since 1990’s “Never, Neverland.” The band seems re-energized, ready to take a step forward in getting recognition where it is due. Wipe away any memories you have of the band’s lame 90’s output and unspectacular records throughout this past decade; this is a welcome comeback from a band that should be a lot bigger than they are.

Highs: Most aggressive Annihilator album ever, a rebirth for the band, Waters puts on the guitar performance of his career.

Lows: Cheesy lyrics, Padden's harsh vocals come off awkward at times.

Bottom line: The best Annihilator album since "Never, Neverland" and the biggest surprise of the year in metal.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)