In my book the mighty ANNIHILATOR and in turn its leader Jeff Waters ceased to be mighty as far back as 1994 with the release of the excellent ‘’King Of The Kill’’ album. Since then, Waters has lurched from good to bad to awful to mediocre to overall indifference with a revolving door of band members that would put even LYNYRD SKYNYRD to shame. He’s had his fair stack of doubters, those that say he should have chucked it or joined another band, but to his credit Water’s has stuck to his task and carried the ANNIHILATOR albatross round his neck with varying degrees of success. There’s been a couple of return to forms in ‘’Carnival Diablos’’ and ‘’Waking The Fury’’ but precious little to add to the legacy. For whatever reasons Jeff Waters and ANNIHILATOR are inter linked into the archives of Metal by the virtues of the old records not by the any of the new offerings.
The revolving door of lead singers has always been the main bone of contention for the hardcore ANNIHILATOR fan and with the release of ‘’Metal’’, the groups twelfth album, the question of "who’s singing this time?" is answered by Waters inviting every one he could find in his diary to appear on an album that is brim full of ANNIHILATOR style Metal but only manages to catch the spirit, the energy, the originality and brilliance of the albums pre ’94 in sporadic bursts.
By no means is ‘’Metal’’ a poor album. Far from it. The tacky? Or witty? title aside, Waters has pulled in quite a myriad of performers to front the familiar ANNIHILATOR guitar sound. So you get Angela Gossow and Michael Arnott from ARCH ENEMY, Jeff Loomis from NEVERMORE, Alex Laiho from CHILDREN OF BODOM and Corey Beulieu from TRIVIUM plus others all roped in for the cause.
Strangely ‘’Metal’’ is more similar to the early ANNIHILATOR albums than the last few more out and out Thrash albums. There’s snippets galore, meant or unmeant, that hark back to the glory days of ‘’Set The World On Fire’’, ‘’King Of The Kill’’ and ‘’Neverland’’. Both ‘’Operation Annihilation’’ and the album’s highlight ‘’Haunted’’ showcase just how influential Waters was back in the day as does the brute riffing force of ‘’Kicked’’. The Thrash is there in the neck brace inducing ‘’Chasing The High’’ that features Willie Adler of LAMB OF GOD and it’s a welcome shot of Metal. Pity it’s at the end of the record though. Still opener ‘’Clown Parade’’ exudes confidence with a trade mark riff. ‘’Couple Suicide’’ is just plain weird and misplaced. ‘’Army Of One’’ what with its shout outs to the bands that made the genre is heart felt although it does just sound like a HALFORD song as does the punchy ‘’Smothered’’. Why he didn’t get Ronnie James Dio guest on the absurd ‘’Detonation’’ is bewildering and given Waters’ penchant for writing riffs the pseudo-SABBATH plagiarism is nothing more than shocking.
Maybe snippets are all that Waters wants to give us these days because on ‘’Metal’’ the sound of old school ANNIHILATOR is beginning to return and I for one couldn’t agree or want more.
(Online June 29, 2007)