Annihilator are one of those bands who have managed to sound different on every record, yet still maintain an identifiable sound. It’s probably because of this that Annihilator still sound pretty fresh fifteen albums into their career. No doubt this is helped along by the occasional new line up and Jeff Waters’ continued insistence on being king of metal riffs (as well as of the kill. Boom. Witticism).
Suicide Society marks Waters’ return to lead vocals for the first time in about eighteen years along with a new guitarist (Aaron Homma) and an old bassist Cam Dixon joining the band. To call it a straight up thrash album would also be incorrect. While it definitely has the old Annihilator speed to it in sections, it also slows down for melodic, straight up metal songs, but we’ll come to that soon.
Despite the name of the title track, the introduction to the album is surprisingly upbeat which is surprise one of the album, no dramatic build up or full metal charge straight away. The guitar tone during the chorus (bracing for potential death threats from thrash purists) almost slips into an alt metal sound for the main riff. You can hear the tune for yourself below.
Official video for Suicide Society
Snap is a strange beast; the a cappella opening shows Jeff definitely has the skills to lead the band before the rest of the song catches up. The main riff at this point has a certain Rammstein flair to it which is fair enough as I like Rammstein and the thought of Annihilator + a metric cock load of pyro is pleasing. The chorus is where the song properly stands out, while most thrash bands focus on having a chorus the audience can simply shout back, songs like Snap have that melodic 80s feel I mentioned earlier.
It’s moments like this that separate the band from the herd. Take Narcotic Avenue for example. This is a straight ahead thrash tune yet the vocal harmonies throughout and the funky guitar in the intro are certainly not thrash staples. This is where Suicide Society stands out; it’s not metal by numbers, thrash tropes are out the window, it’s its own beast. Though there are plenty of Annihilator moments scattered liberally throughout, songs like Narcotic Avenue and Creepin’ Again have those little bass lines Annihilator like to pepper through a song to stop a track being all treble, the now classic solo sound is present through the entire course of the album, though I did end up sitting waiting for a double bend on the guitar, à la Alison Hell.
Before you get too upset about melody (same person I infuriated earlier with my alt metal comment), rest assured they still have songs that crush it. Break, Enter, which features what I can only assume is a fuck you to a robbery Waters or an acquaintance suffered recently, and also features a groovy little bass run, has a good deal of anger and speed to it.
With the headbangable Death Scent leading us into Every Minute we come to one of the strongest songs on the album. Every Minute’s continuing tempo and mood change keeps the listener from losing focus so you appreciate the closing notes of the album when the silence kicks in rather than suddenly noticing the album is done. The post song silence is part of a song, and it should be appreciated.
Lyric video for Creepin’ Again
There is, almost regrettably, no long epic or long ballad. Generally as a rule I don’t particularly like over indulgent thrash ballads, but Annihilator have always done them well. However, this makes Suicide Society all the more consistent. It’s 45 minutes or so of energy then you’re done, left to reflect on the fact you definitely haven’t practised guitar enough and that you should pick up the triangle instead.
While it isn’t as heavy as some Annihilator releases, the songs are well composed, the riffs and choruses are catchy, the solos are outrageous and the vocals are still on point despite eighteen years sailing by. It might be a bit of a divisive album for the bands fan base with some wanting Dave back, others wanting a return to the Neverland days, or whatever other requests a band three decades into their life are sure to get with a new release. However, those who are on board with modern Annihilator will surely be easily satisfied by Suicide Society.
Suicide Society is out now via UDR Music, follow Annihilator here on Facebook for tour updates
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