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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Annihilator

Metal

Review by Mike Korn

I have been a Jeff Waters fan from the early days of Annihilator so it should come as no surprise that I have been anxiously awaiting this release.  Pre-release information hinted at an “old school metal” vibe to the new material and then I heard about the special guest list which included a “who’s who” of the new metal breed.  All of this certainly helped hype Metal and create a buzz that is worthy of this release.  For those of you expecting Schizo Deluxe part 2, you will only get a few tracks that fall into that Annihilator sound.  The bulk of the material is more “old school metal’ with an emphasis on the classic Waters riffing.  I can’t help but hear a lot of Judas Priest in the material which to these ears, is the true sound of “metal.”  Even though many of the special guest like Jesper Stromblad (In Flames) and Willie Adler (Lamb of God) bring in a little of the new metal sound, the vibe and performance stays entrenched to the metal music of yester-years.  If you are an Annihilator fan already, you’ll most likely be getting this new CD anyway but if you like your metal more “old school” with a little updating, then this album is right up your alley.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Clown People
The record starts off in a fine thrash style that has a Judas Priest “Freewheel Burning” vibe to it.  Waters infuses his usual style of crystal clean riffing and a solo that fits the song perfectly.   A little over the half way mark, the song even gives a nod to Iron Maiden with a sing a long passage that songs like “Heaven Can Wait.”  This is a great opener and sets the bar high for the rest of the album.

Couple Suicide
This is the weirdest track on the whole CD.  It is very commercial sounding yet the riffing is very heavy but somehow it fits the disc as a whole.  Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy lends some vocals and it is ironic that a woman delivers the most extreme vocals on offer here.
Army of One
Lips from Anvil makes a guest appearance on this cut and it is exactly what you would expect.  It has an Anvil thrash vibe to it and the chorus is really catchy with Lips and Dave Padden trading off vocals. 
Downright Dominate
I have to say that this track is what I was expecting most of the disc to sound like.  It is thrashy, brutal, and it has the trademark Waters guitar sound.  This would not have been out of place on Schizo Deluxe.
Smothered
Keeping with the sound of the last tune, this is another pure Annihilator metal cut.  There is a bridge that has a bunch of spoken put downs before Waters unleashes one of his tasteful leads.  Having been one of the “uncool” kids back in the day, those put downs took me back to a not so good place. 
Operation Annihilation
This cut starts off as a slower paced metal tune that has some Judas Priest thrown in for good measure.  The song builds into a thrasher that again centers on Waters’ guitar playing.  He is one of the most consistently good players out there and he really shines throughout the disc.  Just listen to his lead work on this cut and you’ll be convinced.
Haunted
Jesper Stromblad guests on this thrasher that is very brutal and sounds very new school metal.  This is another song that could have easily been lifted off of Schizo Deluxe.  Clocking in at over 8 minutes, it is the longest tune on the CD but don’t let the length scare you.  There is enough going on in this number to keep things interesting.  There is a haunting mid section that slowly builds back into the thrash fest that it starts out as.
Kicked
This song is a thrash tune that contains some great guitar playing but there is something here that leaves me cold.  There is nothing really wrong with it; all the right elements are there but this is the only cut that I have not gone back to for repeated listens.

Detonation
“Children Of The Grave” by Black Sabbath is the name of the game here.  Even the vocal phrasing is very much like that track.  The chorus, of course, goes into a different direction but the verses are Sabbath all the way. 

Chasing the High
This is a very brutal thrasher in the Slayer vein.  The only difference is that Waters has a great sense of melody and he infuses even his hardcore thrash music with melody to separate himself from the others in the field.  The middle section with the guitar solo is almost a different song but he makes it fit together nicely making it flow. 

 
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