Annihilator – Metal
|By Jayaprakash Satyamurthy|
|Monday, 17 September 2007|
|Listening to Annihilator’s newest album is a bit like catching up with an old-time best friend from high school over a cup or two of coffee. You’re relieved to see that the fellow hasn’t gone totally to seed, and there’s a lot of the old spark left. Still, the magic isn’t quite there – he’s a bit too studied in his hanging on to the cool catchphrases and in-jokes of your shared past, and on the other hand he’s picked up a few new trendy mannerisms and friends that you’re not too thrilled about. Eventually, you smile, shake hands and leave, feeling a little relieved, a little disappointed and a little bored, and since you were only drinking coffee, nowhere near wasted enough to ascribe any excessive significance to any of these emotions. You’ll meet again in a year or two and maybe exchange the odd email or SMS in between. Life goes on.Annihilator has been releasing more or less solid if internally variable albums ever since their 2000 don’t-call-it-a-comeback, ‘Criteria For A Black Widow’. When he wants to, main man Jeff Waters can still impress with his lexicon-of-thrash riffs and excellent soloing, but the band has more or less fallen into a holding pattern, without quite maintaining that sense of freshness within a static style the way Exodus have, for instance.
Their new album, the simply titled ‘Metal’, is not an exception. It has a guest artist on every track – some great choices like Jeff Loomis, who smoulders on the nifty album opener, ‘Clown Parade’, a rogue’s gallery of melodeath axemen, who do bring some decent chops in without impacting the thrash-oriented style of the album, and at least one ill-advised guest spot given to Danko Jones, who may be good in context but sound under-powered here.
Despite this diversity of collaborators, it’s a very straightforward album, with each song trotting out riffs that are basically classic thrash material updated through a bit of 90s-style staccato. The musicianship is quite solid, and there is some real guitar hero material here and there, which is the least you’d expect. The topics are the usual stew of aggression, rebellion, insanity and more aggression. There’s one attempt at an anthem for the tr00 metal defenders, ‘Army Of One’ which suffers from an overly cheesy and pandering chorus. Other than that, the songwriting here is effective – straightforward, heavy and no-frills (even if there’s often a vague feeling that you’ve heard much of this before). But that’s it. There isn’t anything that really stands out and raises the album to a higher level, although ‘Haunted’ is at least a very long song.
This is probably a suitable album to spin in between the classics and the new contenders during the course of an evening of headbanging indulgence. It isn’t the indispensable statement that its definitive title suggests, but it’s bound to find some favour with listeners who harbour fond memories of classic thrash and enough quality-consciousness to reject ‘United Abominations’.
Two and a half thadiyans out of five.
Year of Release: 2007