Annihilator – For the Demented (Silver Lining Music)Monday, 6th November 2017
Churning along with steady output amid ever-evolving music industry changes, Annihilator has never been a trend setting band. Signing with Roadrunner during the second thrash wave of the late 80’s, their debut Alice in Hell and follow-up Never, Neverland made them critical/fan darlings in North America and Europe- only to see alternative/grunge and extreme genres sweep their more melodic stance back underground. While out of the spotlight domestically, record deals overseas plus festival/touring opportunities kept Annihilator going during the mid-1990’s and 2000’s. Embracing a mix of groove thrash with technical flashes, guitarist Jeff Waters took over the microphone again for 2015’s Suicide Society – setting the stage for this follow-up For the Demented.
Deciding to add the creative input and critical insight of bassist Rich Wicks, Jeff Waters as a guitarist and songwriter blends together a life-long love for thrash metal and classic, power, or hard rock influences with his own take on the energy and finesse that has made his output enduring or timeless. While not a concept record per se, many of the topics covered on the record deal with the brain, from a mental health, addiction, obsessive compulsion, or self-awareness perspective, offering hope and understanding that people are not alone in going through these issues. The opener “Twisted Lobotomy” for instance features Jeff’s frantic lead play, an evil, maniacal low register vocal and spots where the riffing and ‘twists’ harken back to those early Annihilator efforts that perked up ears globally. The versatile songwriting spreads itself out through the ten tracks – the title cut containing some 70’s flavored bluesy ambiance before going into more of a straightforward, mid-tempo groove-oriented metal arrangement, while around the 2:13-2:31 section of closer “Not All There” Jeff and the boys bust out some funk flavored fusion, almost in homage to the days of Sacred Reich when they laid out “31 Flavors”.
When Annihilator choose to inject a melodic ballad to the mix for “Pieces of You”, the lyrics of a true-life boyfriend killing his girlfriend and deciding to ‘eat’ the victim as part of a sandwich are not exactly going to win points for the ‘lovelorn’, but musically this is a graceful arrangement featuring some of the band’s best understanding of texture, harmonization, and pacing in the Metallica vein. Other songs like “The Demon You Know” and “Altering the Altar” possess the sharp, biting nature in the riffs, tempos, and attack that make the band Annihilator – focusing more on what has given them appeal to musicians and multiple generations of metal/thrash fans. For the Demented will gain favor because of its ability to engage the brain and body through solid songwriting mechanics and flawless execution. Annihilator remain a potent defender of the thrash cause, trends never a factor in the final product – making this a very strong album in their discography.