Annihilator has had a bit of a choppy history with vocalists and musicians coming and going. They’ve had some dodgy albums, a whole pile of fantastic albums and some good albums, but one thing has always been constant; Jeff Waters. You can say what you like about an Annihilator album but you can deny the power of the riff.
This latest release is the bands fourteenth studio effort and the fifth featuring Dave Padden on vocals. Celebrating his tenth year in the band as the longest serving vocalist, Feast comes with a bonus disc featuring rerecordings of the bands biggest songs before Dave joined but we’ll focus on the new songs here.
We’re immediately thrown back to the early 80s with a low fi riff and underproduced drums, this lasts for all of twenty seconds before we race forward thirty years as the song kicks in. We’re introduced to Feast properly here in all its splendour.
It sounds like Annihilator, and though that’s a vague remark used by lazy reviewers (aka me), in this case it’s very true. Somehow throughout the line up changes, sound changes and production changes (and this is very well produced), Annihilator have always sounded like Annihilator. If you’re a fan of the band you can’t help but smile when it all clicks together, it’s a good feeling.
It’s almost easy to write a review of an Annihilator CD, I could easily fill this with five hundred words worth of SOLOS, RIFFS, and JEFF motherfucking WATERS written in a variety of ways. That would be ignoring so much though, mainly Padden. I would say this is possibly the highlight of Dave’s Annihilator career so far. His vocals are stronger than ever and he’s used to his fullest.
Take songs like No Way Out and No Surrender for example, he barks the vocals for most of the song before easily sliding into clean style. No Surrender is also one of my personal highlights. Funk mixed with Thrash, I can’t ask for more than that and I got it. This song is a good representation of the band in 2013. A mix of styles, a mix of moods and a mix of emotions come together to showcase Annihilator now.
It’s not all about Dave though. Guest vocalist, Danko Jones, features on Wrapped and like No Surrender, shows the bands ability to mix styles. You can hear a punk edge to this but also can definitely hear Jeffs love of Van Halen mixed in.
It’s also not just about metal. The inevitable ballad occurs just over half way in and I brace myself, thrash ballads can go either way after all. They nail it of course, and to return to the previous point of Dave’s singing. This is his clean highlight by far.
I know I’ve been trying to avoid the obvious by highlighting Dave’s vocals but the inevitable has to happen. The guitar work on this album is flawless, and I don’t say that easily. The riffs are all interesting, and those that aren’t don’t last long enough to annoy you. The solos are something else, it’s face melter after face melter, but in standard Annihilator tradition, they aren’t bog standard metal sweep affairs. There’s really not much point in describing a solo when you could be listening to it, Demon Code features my favourite on the album and also features a cool phasing effect in the riff that gives the song a bounce.
As much as I encourage looking forward and avoiding nostalgia, my overall highlight is Fight The World. The gentle guitar into a crushing full speed riff screams old Annihilator. If they play this live people will straight up die out there.
This is the strongest release by Annihilator in years and I speak the truth when I say there’s something for everyone here. It’s wholly unfair that they aren’t included in the same breath as the giants; we can only hope Feast is what breaks that.