Annihilator - 'Self Titled' (Earache Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Matt Phelps   
Thursday, 03 June 2010 05:30

annihilatorcoverStill going strong 21 years on from the release of genre defining debut 'Alice In Hell', Canadian thrash maestro Jeff Waters lets little if anything get in the way of his musical line of vision. From the internal band problems of line-up changes to exterior major hurdles like potentially catastrophic record label insolvency, there's nothing that derails the Annihilator machine for too long. So, freshly set with a brand new home at the legendary Earache label, Jeff returns to frontline action with the unleashing of album number 13, the self titled 'Annihilator'. Is it a case of unlucky 13 or has Waters pulled out something magical from his bag of tricks?


While Jeff has remained the only consistent member in Annihilator throughout all those years, it should be noted that current vocalist Dave Padden, who joined the ranks back in 2003, is now the second longest serving member after JW himself and also the most prolific front man with now four Annihilator studio albums under his belt. 'All For You', 'Schizo Deluxe' and 'Metal' that all preceeded the new eponymous release each had some fine moments but on the whole I'd felt Annihilator had become slighty tired in recent years, plenty of treading water and not enough shredding Waters. Thankfully though the well paired partnership of Padden and Waters has this time turned in the greatest Annihilator album for many a year. A 10 track sonic beast with as much subtlety as dynamite enema. Comprised of nine new compositions plus one tasty Van Halen cover, it's evident from within the first 30 seconds of 'The Trend' that serious ass kicking is the order of the day. Launching head first into a solo filled introductory build up showcasing a spiralling tornado of notes it leaves you in no doubt that Waters is back and at the top of his game!!! With a front cover sticker boasting a claim of "66 solos on this record" you know that you'll be in for a lethal dose of Canadian speed and second track 'Coward' delivers that dose with a shifting up of gears that puts the metronome firmly into overdrive.


'Ambush' is an outright old school thrash fest of titanic proportions, somewhat similar to the vein of 'Human Insecticide'. It's barrage of light speed riffing and rapid fire solos leading straight into the more clinical attack of, what is for me, the showpiece of the album, 'Betrayed'. Built on the foundation of a rock steady riff and simple repetitive one line chorus it's a throwback to the much underrated 'Remains' album. A chugging thunderous meltdown laiden yet again with more perfectly pitched solos. '25 Seconds To Die' lies more with the style of material previously found on 99's Randy Rampage reunion album 'Criteria For A Black Widow', a wandering lost bassline frequently eclipsed by an angry wall of noise laced with Padden's irate barking tone. 'Nowhere To Go', 'The Other Side', and 'Death In Your Eyes' continue the form with more destructive riffing crashing head on into melodic solos with Padden's growling vocals cemented firmly over the top. That leaves only the almighty crunch of 'Payback' to wrap up the new material in a spit filled anthem of vengence, "Hey you, remember me? I am the last thing you'll ever see!" The Van Halen cover which I mentioned earlier tops off the ten track run with a highly energetic tear through 'Romeo Delight' from 1980's 'Women And Children First'. Possibly a strange choice due the the natural dynamic of the song being at such odds to much of the new material but I guess with no 7 inches anymore B-sides have to end up somewhere. An enjoyable lighthearted send off all the same.


Waters not only handled 99% of the writing here but also performed all of the guitar and bass parts, as well as producing, engineering, mixing and mastering the whole thing, leaving only the vocals for Padden and the drum parts to session man Ryan Ahoff. In many ways it really does seem that Jeff sat down and systematically reassembled the Annihilator machine from scratch. Salvaging all the best pieces from the likes of 'Alice', 'Neverland', 'Refresh' and 'Remains' and building an album of unquestionable brilliance. 'Annihilator' really is the best album since the early to mid Nineties heyday, a stunning return to form that's long overdue.


Standout tracks: 'Ambush' and 'Betrayed'