Annihilator - Annihilator

Let's face the facts here people: Jeff Waters is a genius. He's a man who has managed to brave the relentless waves of trends and make a near flawless track record for himself with Annihilator - bar a few dud albums, he's done pretty well for himself. Everyone may cite 'Alice In Hell', 'Never Neverland' or 'King of the Kill' as his best works, but albums like 'Carnival Diablos' and 'Schizo Deluxe' have proven the fact that he's still a force to be reckoned with, despite the extremely average 'Metal' and the utterly atrocious 'All For You' and for a guy who recorded a number of Annihilator's albums all by himself, you have to give him credit. So here's Jeff's latest effort, simply titled 'Annihilator' and... well...

I'll admit, when I first heard 'Metal' I didn't like it. Even now there's only two or three songs from that album that I enjoy, so I thought that the only place Jeff could go is up, right? Well, kind of. Right from the beginning of opener 'The Trend', you take a step back in fear, as it's very Bullet for my Valentine-esque sounding - "Oh shit, another 'Metal'!" I thought, however this is very misleading as the song changes bout a minute in and picks up the pace. THIS is more like it, the classic Annihilator sound that we remember from 1989-1994! Vocalist Dave Padden - Annihilator's longest lasting singer - is sounding better than ever here. Following tracks 'Ambush' and 'Betrayed' manage to deliver the thrash even better than the first song, but when you get to 'Nowhere to God' and 'The Other Side' you start getting a feeling of deja vu... and monotony.

There seems to be a sense of desperation in these songs, the sound of an experienced and exceptionally talented set of musicians who are trying to find their roots again and not really managing to do so. There's some spectacular stuff here that is worthy of a few spins every now and then, but after awhile a lot of the album becomes a blur of repetition that will have you reaching for the skip button. The album starts off pretty well and then takes a drastic nosedive in quality about halfway through, with 'Death In Your Eyes' and 'Payback' almost sounding like a bad Annihilator cover band at times - don't get me wrong, the riffs and solos are still great but it just feels so rushed throughout the second half of the record. Top this off with a pointless cover of Van Halen's 'Romeo Delight' and you're left with a feeling of disappointment when the album is finished.

I have to admit, one thing that really ruins this album is the drum sound - supposedly, Ryan Ahoff played drums on this record but if I'm honest, this sounds far closer to a drum machine like EZDrummer. The sound is so artificial and monotonous that it became an annoyance, almost ruining the entire listening experience for me, but then again I have an ear for these things so maybe some people will be able to ignore it. The guitar tone is pretty crunchy though, and the mix is sound overall so at least the record has that going for it.

Well... I'm a little disappointed here. It's an improvement upon 'Metal' in some ways, but it's just as bad in others - at least the last album had some memorable tracks and riffs like 'Clown Parade' and 'Operation Annihilation', whereas 'Annihilator' has very few, if any at all. Fans will love this for what it is, and it does have some good songs on here, but overall I think Jeff Waters and co. tried a little too hard to do too much at once and it's backfired. A decent album that is marred by inconsistency, awful drum sound and a hell of a lot of repetition, but worth a look. Jut don't ask for too much.

1. The Trend
2. Coward
3. Ambush
4. Betrayed
5. 25 Seconds
6. Nowhere To Go
7. The Other Side
8. Death In Your Eyes
9. Payback
10. Romeo Delight

Earache Records
Reviewer: Dave Ingram Jr.
Apr 8, 2010

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