Annihilator re-release two of their earlier albums ‘All For You’ (2004) and ‘Schizo Deluxe’ (2005), along with the ‘Live Annihilation’ live recorded album. I decided to look at these three albums with fresh eyes and discuss the relevance it has to date. ‘All For You’ was the first on my list. The album can be described in three words; disciplined, ‘fromáge’ and egotistical.
The title track displays a simplistic steady paced composition of guitar riffs and rhythm. Jeff Waters and Dave Padden use a mix of harmonic layovers and harsh aggressive vocals, but for those fans of Annihilator looking for the delivery of Randy Rampage or Coburn Pharr; that is an expectation you won’t receive. As an opener there is a lack of interaction between the band and the listener, there is no hook to entice you to listen further.
‘Dr Psycho’ is somewhat different. An Alice Cooper turn, that Avenged Sevenfold captured and made their own. There is a theatrical fantasy about this one; a story-line that plays along the Jekyll and Hyde theme. Jeff Waters sings lead and uses a dark, softer, more spoken tone in the verse, drawing you in. Imagery is created through the contrasts of tempo and the vocal technique changing between clean and abrasive. The twin guitar phrases are unmistakable, and have elements of the classic trademarks of Jeff Waters’ playing from the song ‘Nothing Left’ on the album ‘Criteria For A Black Widow’. Mike Mangini’s drums also have a slight nod to those of Ray Hartmann throughout.
The erratic nature of the album presents an avant-garde making, pushing boundaries of the musical norm. ‘Demon Dance’ holds an impish and mischievous melody over technical thrash. Dave uses discordance to further heighten this fact.
Jeff had a great deal of activity in the production of the album, there are times his perfection upon his work can be over embellished. For example; the three part vocal harmony in ‘Bled’. He does have an intellect for challenging and experimenting his idioms to remain relevant in the present time “2004”, to stay with the major metal bands like System Of a Down. ‘The Nightmare Factory’ holds that creative flamboyancy that System Of a Down have in songs like ‘Chop Suey’ and ‘Bounce’.
‘The One’ and ‘Holding On’ really stood out on the album, Annihilator are very brave to have such a deviation from their usual completion. ‘The One’ Dave Padden uses a flanging microphone effect, giving it a Limp Bizkit take, from their cover of The Who’s ‘Behind Blue Eyes’. The power ballad was an unusual sensation that interrupted the flow of the album, this seemed deliberate. ‘Holding On’ with Jeff Waters on lead vocals is a song that seems misplaced on a thrash album, it is an adolescent teen rock tune, very much like Simple Plan. Odd. The album dominates variation giving the album multi-personalities however as a whole it doesn’t stand up to Annihilator past classics. [5/10]
Annihilator have just re-released their second live album ‘Live Annihilation’ recorded in 2002 on the tour for ‘Waking The Fury’. The live line up consisted of Jeff Waters (guitar), Joe Comeau (vocals), Russ Bergquist (bass), Randy Black (drums) and Curran Murphy (guitar). Looking at their previous live album ‘In Command’ starring Randy Rampage and Coburn Pharr on vocals, Dave Scott Davis (guitar), Wayne Darley (bass) and Ray Hartmann (drums), the choice to immortalize the classical material with a different line up, is something ‘Live Annihilation’ will have to live up to against ‘In Command’. The set list highly focuses on their back catalogue, which is what the fans want to hear however there is the exception of ‘Criteria for a black widow’…odd, why not include ‘Bloodbath’, ‘Back To The Place’ and obviously the title track? Overall the live CD encompasses all the greats from a great career and any fan of the band should have this in their collection. Jeff’s trademark guitar tone and crunch is faithfully reproduced live as is much of the technicality Annihilator are most famous for on their studio recordings. [9/10]
2005 Brings ‘Schizo Deluxe’ a complete contrast from ‘All For You’. A constructive mixture of modern production and old school thrash. The style is predatory and raw, Dave Padden’s vocal ability has become it’s own entity, the spectrum has vastly improved, addressing Randy Rampage’s ferocity and delivery. The tempo is ferocious with unconventional and unpredictable drumming from Tony Chappelle. The guitar work is at its best, attacking with furious solos and infectious grooves. Annihilator as always referencing earlier work lyrically, clearly evident in ‘Warbird’ with “set the world on fire”. Jeff Waters wanted to bring back the well- favored creation of ‘Alice in Hell’, ‘Never, Neverland’ and he has done this cleverly through conspicuous use of lyrical content and not so well hidden familiar riffs.
‘Plasma Zombies’ is classic story telling Annihilator. Children’s horror fables and urban legends of vampires, zombies, ghosts and all things creepy. The distinctions within the song lead the listener to two points of view from the lyrical characters, the demented instrumental for Zombies and eerie guitar parts with flanging or phasing vocal effect for the child’s imagination.
The album takes a turn for the groove in ‘Like Father, Like Gun’ which has a large amount of significance to Metallica load album era ‘2×4’. There is an intimidating opening with ‘Pride’ to cut off suddenly with a brief comedic interlude, into an explosion of adrenaline, the melodic chorus are catchy and has a element of “pop punk”. There is one imposing high pitched scream from guest Dan Beehler (from Exciter) to drop one demonic howl…awesome!
The album all of sudden becomes classic Megadeth, Jeff Waters’ imitates Dave Mustanie’s vocal accents, as rhythm guitar becomes an emulation of Chris Poland/Chris Broderick. The song structure and solos are a definite Jeff Waters trademark, with his unorthodox guitar tone. This leads nicely to Jeff’s showmanship, in exaggeration taken to the max, in the finishers ‘Clare’ and ‘Something Witchy’. [8.5]
Track List for ‘All For You’
All For You
Both Of Me
The Nightmare Factory
The Sound Of Horror
Track List for ‘Live Annihilation’ Double disc
The Blackest Day
King Of The Kill
My Precious Lunatic Asylum
Set the World on Fire
I Am in Command
Refresh the Demon
Syn. Kill 1
Track List for Schizo Deluxe
Like Father, Like Gun
Too Far Gone