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Annihilator – For The Demented

A stayer…

Released by on 3 November 2017 through Nerverland Music Inc. and reviewed by Jason Guest

Since forming in 1984 and rising to fame in 1989 with their debut album Alice In Hell, this band has had more members than Spinal Tap (though none spontaneously combusted or choked on someone else’s vomit, as far as we know). Where such inconsistency would have wiped many a band off the planet, not once has mainstay Jeff Waters – regularly name-checked by countless bands and musicians as a significant influence – ever given up.

Following the departure of second-longest-serving member Dave Padden, 2015’s Suicide Society, saw Waters back on lead vocals for the first time since the three albums released during the band’s “downtime” between 1994 and 1999 and with something to prove. What it did prove was that Waters had little concern about finding a replacement for Padden. Come 2017 and Annihilator are releasing their 16th album, For The Demented, and Waters’ vocals are stronger than ever and easily on a par with his song-writing skills.

Representing the marriage between the lyrical theme of “the human mind and all of its glory, complexity, diversity, weaknesses and insanity!” and the glorious, complex, diverse, far-from-weak and insane music. ‘Twisted Lobotomy’ is quick to attack in a flurry of go-for-the-throat thrash riffing, snarling vocals and a manic lead break, Waters and co. drawing deeply on the elements that delivered Annihilator to a salivating audience in the late 80s.

Intense from the outset, when ‘One to Kill’ drops to a half-time feel at around the 90-second mark, the effect is crushing, and when the lead break kicks in to combine with the power in the groove, Waters’ skills as song-writer and musician are at the fore. Two tracks in and the album has got its hooks in as deep as you think they can go. But no, the groove of the title track and the melodic chorus are both destined to have many banging heads singing along when played live.

Offering some respite from the battery, ‘Pieces of You’ slows it down and leans more towards the melodic for the lead work and the narrative vocal line. What’s impressive about this track is the arrangement, the writing team of Waters and bassist Rich Hinks layering the vocals and the guitars to give the track ever evolving depth and texture. ‘The Demon You Know’ is a solid slab of riff-driven metal that prepares us for the thrash blast of ‘Phantom Asylum’, its 2-minute mid-section giving Waters and co. time to sit once more in the groove and let the music breathe before hitting us once more with another lead break that takes in the furious, the melodic and the maniacal.

More intense thrash with ‘Altering the Alter’ before the throwback ‘The Way’ collapses in and throws the album off a little. It’s good fun but it feels out of place, as does the instrumental ‘Dark’, which would have served as an excellent album intro, especially before ‘Twisted Lobotomy’ kicks in. And with ‘Not All There’ to close the album, Waters kills it with a modern Annihilator thrash-meets-melodic classic.

As Waters himself says, “trying to re-capture the past usually fails, or at least won’t come close.” Co-writing and co-producing with bassist Hinks has served Waters and Annihilator very well and they have delivered a fantastic piece of work that draws deeply on all the key elements that cemented Annihilator’s reputation all those years ago while sounding fresh, innovative and exciting. A solid album, this is a stayer.

Annihilator – For The DementedTrack list:

  1. Twisted Lobotomy
  2. One to Kill
  3. For the Demented
  4. Pieces of You
  5. The Demon You Know
  6. Phantom Asylum
  7. Altering the Alter
  8. The Way
  9. Dark
  10. Not All There

 

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