Annihilator – All For You + Schizo Deluxe (Reissues)

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Review by Brian McGowan

Apart from bagging a band name that instantly defines their music, Annihilator have consistently delivered albums that are never less than interesting. The Megadeths, Slayers and Panteras of the world may get the headlines, but for many years Annihilator were building traction off the radar screen, gaining fans incrementally with each new release, to the extent they have now become Canada’s biggest selling metal band. These two studio albums (of a total of thirteen, stretching from 1989’s Alice In Hell to this year’s Feast) were first released in 2003 and 2005, and have now been replastered and reissued.

Flawed genius, Jeff Waters (basically all guitars, bass, songwriting, arrangements and production) clearly has a constantly shifting vision (as well as a constantly shifting line up) of what his band should sound like. The result frequently alienates fans who simply want more of the same only better. None of this “embracing change’ nonsense for them. On the two studio albums here, in varying degrees, Waters alchemises elements of traditional Thrash, Hardcore and Groove Metal, usually with success, creating an amalgam that no doubt gives pleasure to him and the more open minded fan, but reportedly not to the reactionaries.


Annihilator – All For You

Annihilator – All For YouAll For You, the album, is the first with vocalist, Jon Comeau’s replacement, Dave Padden. Paddens’ natural baritone might seem anathema to the genre, but no doubt that very contradiction was one of Waters main reasons for bringing him onboard.

The title track is Waters’ mindset in microcosm, a medium paced, mainstream melodic hard rock song corrupted by Metalcore aggression. Lyrically, it’s hard to pin down. Maybe the medium is the message. Maybe it’s just an introductory statement of intent. But no, it isn’t…second track, ‘Dr.Psycho’ reverts to the classic Thrash of classic Annihilator. And for anyone who dismissively condemns the genre as one dimensional, this track alone should convince otherwise. Powerful images and technical musicianship are deployed with military precision, mixing swirling theatrical riffola and changes of mood and pace like battleground strategies designed to baffle the enemy.

And while other album highlights, like the remorseless thrash of ‘Demon Dance’ and the verging-on-Speed Metal ‘Rage Absolute’ – both boiling over with ebullient energy – are not quite so convincing, they underline Waters’ mastery of his art, and his willingness not to be predictable. Arguably a trait that denied him the success enjoyed by the so-called Big Four.

8 out of 10


Annihilator – Schizo Deluxe

Annihilator - Schizo DeluxeCredibility among long-time fans was regained with follow up, Schizoid Deluxe, a manic, helter skelter ride back down through the years to the band’s roots in traditional Thrash metal. Cute album title. Waters is nothing if not astute. The social and political anti-establishment themes, redolent of the genre, are here in abundance. ‘Plasma Zombies’ and ‘Like Father Like Gun’ need no further explanation.

As an exhibition of raw power, the album has few equals, ‘Invite It’ and ‘Pride’ skillfully combine bludgeoning, bass heavy riffs with razoring (and frequently melodic) axework , pummelling you into submission before the slicing and dicing begins. Naturally, the Annihilator multitude met it with open arms, and spread the word with snarling, growling zeal, propelling it into the lower reaches of the Metal charts everywhere, except here.

If you were to select two Annihilator albums worthy of reissue, these would be among anyone’s prime candidates.

7 out of 10


 

All For You Track Listing:

  1. All For You
  2. Dr Psycho
  3. Demon Dance
  4. The One
  5. Bled
  6. Both Of Me
  7. Rage Absolute
  8. Holding On
  9. The Nightmare Factory
  10. The Sound Of Horror
Schizoid Deluxe Track Listing:

  1. Maximum Satan
  2. Drive
  3. Warbird
  4. Plasma Zombies
  5. Invite It
  6. Like Father Like Gun
  7. Pride
  8. Too Far Gone
  9. Clare
  10. Something Witchy

 

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Great review Brian, enjoyable to read and dextrously succinct! I still can’t figure out why Annihilator are so overlooked; their output has been so much consistently better than any of the Big Four’s!

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