"Metal" (SPV; 2007)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

It takes quite some gumption to call your newest album simply "Metal," but who's going to wrangle with a guy with the resoomay and pedigree of Annihilator's mainman Jeff Waters? 

Just to be on the safe side though, Waters gets a little insurance in the form of help from friends on this Canadian act's latest 10-track endeavor Everyone from Willie Adler (whose contribution to the frenetic "Chasing the High" is arguably the thrashiest part of the disc) to Anders Bjorler gets a turn on this star-studded affair, allowing the band to capture a wealth of diverse energies and styles while adding their own distinct metal spin, resulting in a challenging mixed bag of metal.

"Clown Parade" (featuring Jeff Loomis) and "Downright Dominate" (with Alexi Laiho) keep the mood old school while "Couple Suicide" (a duet with Danko Jones and Angela Gossow) presents an intriguing departure for the veteran group. 

Even though the glimpses of past riches here are solid, the glory days of "Alice in Hell" have been usurped by the Love Boat all-star guest homage Annihilator exhibits on the novelty-esque "Metal," yielding both a new found respect and a slew of interesting changes for the band. 

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"Schizo Deluxe" (Locomotive; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Annihilator kingpin Jeff Waters said he was going back to the heavy for "Schizo Deluxe." And he wasn't kidding. With this CD, Waters and the band deliver the goods.

Starting out with the slow-but-heavy "Maximum Satan," Annihilator immediately rip into the stripped down but fast paced "Drive." It never stops from that point on and, in fact, probably even gets better, especially with "Pride," which starts out with a mid-paced thrash tempo and then bursts into light speed. Each song roars along at a rollicking thrash pace that's heavy on crushing guitar riffage. And vocalist David Padden seems to have really found his zone here, stepping up to the plate when the vocals are most important and taking a step back when it's time for guitar riffing, solos and drums.

If there's any mis-step here, it's the raw, staccato, hardcore punch of "Something Witchy," which can best be described as "annoying." Then again, judging from the lyrical content, that may have been intentional. Regardless, the blistering extended solo here will take your mind off that soon enough (although the bizarre ending will no doubt wrinkle your brow once more).

Various sound clips appear between and during several songs, giving the album a different attitude than previous Annihilator CDs. Most work; a few just seem weird.

Most of all, I love the no apologies style of this CD. Waters said he was going to deliver a balls-out metal album and he and the gang did just that. There's no time for ballads or punk experiments here. This is Annihilator, pure and unadulterated. "Schizo Deluxe" is the kind of CD that reminds fans why they loved a band in the first place and why they still bang their heads to them all these years later.

"Schizo Deluxe" also contains three unexplained bonus tracks: "Weapon X," "I Am In Command" and "Annihilator." All three are pretty cool, too.

Annihilator: Jeff Waters - guitar, bass, vocals; David Padden - Vocals; Tony Chappelle - Drums.

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"All For You" (The End; 2004)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Jeff Waters is revered as a virtuoso guitarist, yet Canada's Annihilator have rarely risen above their glory period of the early '90s. 

On the band's latest effort, the 10-track "All For You," Waters decided to change the lineup yet again, adding drummer Mike Mangini (Extreme, Steve Vai) and vocalist Dave Padden (Theory of a Deadman) to the fracas. The results are mixed at best: while tracks like "Bled" have a truly shredding instrumental part, the unmatched vocal delivery and sophomoric lyrical content are both too contrived. 

Still, while the overall experimental vibe produced by Waters and company may not make for a settling or familiar listening experience, it is very spirited and - while clumsy at times - covers musical ground like no other Annihilator album to date. In addition, the riffs spit out by Waters, heard on the likes of psycho-thrash "Rage Absolute" and the sinister groove of "Demon Dance," are still badass, no matter who sings over them. 

Uneven, unexpected, but definitely not uneventful, "All For You" is a departure for the band, and a real grab bag collection for the adventurous listener to absorb. 

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"Carnival Diablos" (Metal-Is; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

With blistering, barbed-wire guitars, raging vocals and hard-driving rhythms, Annihilator roars through the 11 tracks of "Carnival Diablos" with reckless abandon. The music ranges from the hard, slow Metallica-type rockers to the furious, fingertip-burning speed-metal of Slayer. If you tried to band your head to some of these tunes, you'd likely snap your neck.

"Carnival Diablos" begins with "Denied," a powerful tune that lets the listener know what to expect. "Battered" is a perfect example of the band's bludgeon-like sound. Driven by a sledgehammer of a chorus, the song sails along with guitar riffs that you'd swear would tie the musician's fingers in knots. The title song tricks you into thinking that it's going to be a little more radio friendly than the others but after just a few moments, in sneaks those barbed-wire guitars to let you know that the punishment isn't over yet. "Shallow Grave" almost sounds like vintage AC/DC. "Liquid Oval" is a refreshing break near the CD's end, a sweet little instrumental that brings to mind some of Joe Satriani's work.

Those are just a few of the great songs on this CD. "Carnival Diablos" offers a little bit of everything for anyone who likes their rock the metal way. You can't go wrong with this release.

"Carnival Diablos" was produced and engineered by Jeff Waters.

Annihilator: Joe Comeau - vocals; Ray Hartmann - drums; Jeff Waters - guitar, vocals; Dave Scott Davis - guitars; Russell Berguist - bass.

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"Criteria For a Black Widow" (CMC International; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

With Randy Rampage at the mike, Annihilator sound a little different than they do on "Carnival Diablos." "Criteria" features even more speedy leads and riffs, and songwriting and vocals style that are reminiscent of Megadeth and the heavier-sounding stuff of Alice Cooper (think "Brutal Planet.")

As anyone who knows anything about Annihilator knows, the band is really the brainchild of guitarist Jeff Waters, and it's his guitars, and those of Dave Scott Davis, that really stand out here. One moment, they're shredding faster than Slayer, the next they're slow and chunky, finally, they're the stuff of ballads, smooth and sweet.

Most of the time, however, "Criteria For A Black Widow" just kicks your ass. It's albums like this that bring to mind that classic "Spinal Tap" line - "Turn it up to 11."

The CD also features two versions of "Loving the Sinner," the first sung by Randy Rampage, the second featuring Jeff Waters at the mike (both are great). In addition, a ten-minute interview with Waters is included at the end of the CD.

Annihilator is a band that has never shied away from the "heavy metal" label and that's the best definition of "Criteria For a Black Widow." Heavy metal. With emphasis on the "heavy."

Annihilator: Randy Rampage - vocals; Ray Hartmann - drums; Jeff Waters - guitar, vocals; Dave Scott Davis - guitars; Russell Berguist - bass.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 07 Aug 2023 21:18:43 -0400.