Annihilator - Feast [Deluxe Edition]

Annihilator's self-titled 2010 release was a slight disappointment for me. It wasn't bad by any means - I think that the only Annihilator record I can legitimately say I dislike in it's entirety is 2004's All For You - but it seemed to kind of trail off about halfway through, so the second half of the record just simply didn't feel as good as the first half. It was still a worthwhile purchase though, and Canada's finest speed metal titans have seldom failed to create spectacular albums over the past few years... hell, I think Annihilator have one of the best back catalogues in their genre considering that this new album is their fourteenth studio release and it's every bit as enjoyable as every other album in their arsenal (insert a joke about All For You here). Three years after their last record, Jeff and Dave have crafted something rather special with Feast.

I've been a fan of Annihilator since I was 14 and I've always seemed to enjoy their more recent outputs over what most regard as their 'classic' albums such as the speed metal behemoths (note to self: Speed Metal Behemoth is now a band) of 1989's Alice In Hell and 1990's Never Neverland. I absolutely worship those albums, no question about it, but the sound that Jeff Waters perfected on albums such as 2001's Carnival Diablos and 2005's colossal Schizo Deluxe where he decided that simply limiting yourself to naught but speed and thrash was a retarded idea and threw in some more groove and classic rock influenced songs. This was only cemented when Dave Padden joined the band in 2003 and added his impressive vocals to the mix, with a lot of his work on Schizo Deluxe being some of my favourite voicework of all time. So what we have here with Feast is really just a continuation of Annihilator's sound - it's definitely got an overall thrashier edge to it than the previous two releases but as with bands such as Evile, Destruction and Onslaught, it simply sounds like an Annihilator album. Which is exactly what we all wanted.

I have to say that as much as I enjoyed Metal and Annihilator, I really haven't loved an Annihilator release so much since Schizo Deluxe. Once again, the previous two albums seemed to hit all the right spots but just kind of lacked that final push - that last bit of 'oomph' needed to make them sound perfect. Here, Jeff has hit the nail on the head and then some. Opener 'Deadlock' is a thrashing beast, 'Smear Campaign' is a speedy, groovy beast with some Dave Padden's finest work, 'Perfect Angel Eyes' is a nice break from the heaviness that echoes the likes of 'Only Be Lonely' from King of the Kill, 'Demon Code' is crushingly heavy in places and everything is nicely paced in spite of some of the track lengths present here. It's another rare instance of a band maintaining their indentifiable sound while writing an album that sound different from the previous one AND all flows together perfectly. It's not easy to write a consistent album where every track feels like it belongs to that particular record, but that said Mr. Waters has been at this since the early eighties so I guess trial and error has paid off for him here. Dave Padden deserves a really special mention again for his oustanding work on Feast as well, at this point I'm starting to think that he's the special ingredient in Annihilator's recipe - his vocals are incredible to the point of absurdity, though I'm more than aware of some fans' dislike for his style. Everything is just fine-tuned to perfection here - but then it goes one step further. Need I remind you that this is the deluxe edition I'm talking about here, so allow me to take a moment to speak about disc two: Re-Kill.

Re-Kill is a fifteen track disc exclusive to this deluxe edition of Feast and it's... well, an album ful of re-recorded Annihilator classics. Take a look at the tracklisting on this page, I'll wait... back? Good. Now I like many other metal fans have a somewhat love-hate relationship with re-recordings, as they tend to vary from excellent (Anacrusis' Hindsight, Destruction's Thrash Anthems, many of Onslaught's bonus tracks) to absolutely shite (Sodom's The Final Sign of Evil, Exodus' Let There Be Blood) so this is another one of those things that's either going to be amazing or utterly horrendous. I think you can guess from the score I've given this package that it's far from bad - in fact, this is possibly the best collection of re-recorded tracks I have ever heard. They haven't screwed around with the tracks' pacing or arrangements (I'm looking at you here, Testament!) and Mr. Padden has been extremely faithful to the performances of his predecessors... in other words, Annihilator have played it very safe and carefully reimagined some of their best material with a frankly astonishing result. Hell, I'd even go so far to say that the new renditions of 'Ultra Motion', 'Time Bomb', 'The Fun Palace' and above allĀ  'Brain Dance' should be considered the definitive versions of those songs. Yes, Re-Kill is that good. My only gripe is that it's been somewhat relegated to bonus disc status when it's more than deserving of a standalone release.

When an album is this good, it's extremely difficult to be critical of it... I really can't find any flaws here whatsoever. I wasn't expecting Feast to be as good as it is, I was expecting a good Annihilator album but... not their best work in nearly a decade. I'm pleasantly surprised for about the fifth time this year! Feast is a spectacular piece of work, but the addition of the Re-Kill disc makes the Deluxe edition - with it's glorious 3D cover - the must-have for heavy metal fans. This is a contender for album of the year, thrash/speed metal fans will love it, Annihilator's legions of fans will love it and so will everybody else. File this under 'mandatory'.

Disc 1: Feast

1. Deadlock
2. No Way Out
3. Smear Campaign
4. No Surrender
5. Wrapped
6. Perfect Angel Eyes
7. Demon Code
8. Fight The World
9. One Falls, Two Rise

Disc 2: Re-Kill

1. The Fun Palace
2. Alison Hell
3. King Of The Kill
4. Never, Neverland
5. Set The World On Fire
6. W.T.Y.D.
7. No Zone
8. Bloodbath
9. 21
10. Stonewall
11. Ultra Motion
12. Time Bomb
13. Refresh The Demon
14. Word Salad
15. Brain Dance