This album is a statement. It’s a statement of stubbornness, of loyalty and of a style of music that is too good to be f*cked with. It’s also perfection and the result of equilibrists at work.
Jeff Waters’ flair for the riffs that kill is unchanged. He is a master, no more, no less. Dave Padden has become rock solid behind the microphone and is truly an asset for Annihilator. Not to mention that he’s just beaten the record – No Annihilator singer managed to do three studio albums – a big congrats to mister Padden!
Mike Mangini…boy, that man is just a different story! When you listen to ‘Metal’, you sit there and wonder if the man is for real. His precision is machine-like and you catch yourself thinking ‘did Waters use a drum machine again?’ How tour drummer Alex Landenberg is going to live up to this live, I have no clue.
The multitude of guest musicians on this album has been much talked about. Never mind that – it’s mostly promotional value and doesn’t add much - Danko Jones and Angela Gossow’s contribution being the exception from that rule, though. The soli flown in by Jeff Loomis, Corey Beaulieu, Jesper Strömblad, Michael Amott and all the other great guitarist from all around metaldom disappear in the virtuosity of Waters anyway. It is as if Waters allows himself to play around and experiment with breaks and riffs again in a way he hasn’t done in a long, long time and it is a joy to hear.
The opener of the album, Clown Parade, is a sweeping thrash tune with a cool, floating base riff, a woohooo sing-a-long bit with guitar harmonies to go.
The cooperation with aforementioned Danko Jones caused some worry on my behalf, but the tune Couple Suicide has turned out to be a real rocker with Gossow’s swinging snarl in the background.
Army of One has a simple old school heavy metal feel and is exactly about staying true to the roots (and this is where Waters makes Megadeth rhyme with Black Sabbath…ehm…). It’s a bit cheesy I suppose, but screw it – it’s cool.
Downright Dominate is a straightforward thrasher with mid-tempo verses and a speedy chorus and bridge. Smothered sees Padden getting his clean voice out on top of a tune that is more heavy metal than actual thrash. Somewhat unusual for Annihilator is the synth sweeps that are included here.
The customary Jeff-sings-a-song is called Operation Annihilation, a hard-rocking track, a big middle-finger from the man to those who didn’t believe in him. I always preferred when Waters used other singers than himself, but I have to admit that this is one of the better efforts he’s made behind the mic.
Haunted is a killer thrash tune – full throttle from the very beginning, Mangini firing away on those double bass drums, then turning into a swinging and raw story of mental disorder, Waters’ favourite lyrical theme. The intro of Kicked takes Annihilator into new musical territory but soon turns into a typical Annihi-thrasher.
Detonation has a very cool intro that sounds like an updated version of Black Sabbath’s Children of the Grave.
Chasing the High concludes the album with an intro riff that smells of sweet Alice In Hell days and bridges that ooze of Never, Neverland.
It’s all love and butter for Annihilator right now – gather all ye faithful thrashers and give this a listen.