Annihilator - Schizo deluxe 2.5/5

Reviewed: 12-16-05





Tracklist:

1. Maximum Satan
2. Drive
3. Warbird
4. Plasma zombies
5. Invite it
6. Like father, like gun
7. Pride
8. Too far gone
9. Clare
10. Something witchy


Canadian thrash "band" Annihilator has been around since the late 80s. It would be more accurate to call Annihilator the "Jeff Waters Band" as the guitarist and sole songwriter is the driving force behind the band. Their blistering debut 'Alice in hell' and killer follow-up 'Never neverland' remain thrash classics featuring strong songs and searing, technical guitar work. These were followed up by the tepid 'Set the world on fire'. Waters showed a much more subdued, lighter, more commercial offering here and Annihilator fans quickly learned that Jeff Waters likes to constantly tweak the musical formula - for better or worse. The following years saw me lose interest in the band as it became more and more of a Jeff Waters solo project (with him even taking over the lead vocal duties) and churning out thrash CDs often tainted by his poor vocals and industrial influences. Finally, after being inspired by a live Slayer concert, Waters decided to return things to their roots and even recruited Randy Rampage (vocalist of 'Alice in hell') back to release 1999's 'Criteria for a black widow'. Many old timer Annihilator fans like myself rejoiced at this release as it featured the classic Annihilator thrash sound uncluttered by any unneeded influences from other genres. Things got even better in 2001 with the release of the masterpiece 'Carnival diablos' which featured former Liege Lord singer Joe Comeau on vocals. '...diablos' was a monster thrash CD filled with killer songs and the catchy, technical guitar wizardry that brought me to the band in the first place. It looked like we were in for some monster future releases.

But, Waters just couldn't help himself from tinkering with the formula. 'Waking the fury' was the follow-up, and while it had some pretty cool songs, Waters inexplicably adopted a very fuzzy, distinctly unmetal sounding guitar tone that permeated the CD. This definitely dampened most fans reactions to the CD, although I maintain it still had pretty good songs. In typical Annihilator fashion, Comeau left the band after only 2 CDs and Waters replaced him with Dave Padden on their last CD 'All for you'. This would be quite a can of worms. Padden alienated a lot of fans due to his penchant for blasting forth vocals in hard core screams as times. I, myself, am not a big fan of that particular vocal style, but thankfully they were used sparingly enough that I still enjoyed 'All for you'. Padden is actually a pretty talented singer, though he spends most of 'All for you' singing in a style I would call "quirky". Still, Annihilator has always been pretty quirky anyway, so while I didn't love it, I still enjoyed 'All for you'. Some other fans were less forgiving and just hated the CD due mainly to its vocals.

Well, here we have the new CD, and the short review is this: Padden is back. If you hated him on the last CD, I assure you that you will hate him again here. There are more hard core screams mixed in with his "quirky" style and then some moments of him actually singing, which show that he is a talented vocalist when he wants to be. The songs are pretty good, typical catchy technical thrash you expect from Annihilator with songs like "Maximum Satan" and "Something witchy" having some decidedly hard coreish breakdown moments that really, I would prefer not be on the CD. But, with Annihilator you're always going to get them trying out new stuff like this, so I guess we should be used to it. There's still plenty of good thrash here with the crazy fast, insanely technical guitar work from Waters we all love and crave. My favorite song is probably "Invite it" which bears almost too much of a resemblance to "The both of me" from 'All for you'.

Whether or not this CD is worth it to you is based completely on your thoughts on Padden as a vocalist. If he annoyed you on the last CD, he's probably going to annoy you even more here. If you loved him, than you'll likely love this CD. I think, it's pretty good, but the hard core moments are beginning to get on my nerves now. I want Annihilator to do pure thrash, and I am not sure when or if Waters will provide it. If you're new to the band, check out one of the first 2 CDs. If you're on the fence with this, check out some samples before buying, as Waters is capable of much better than this CD.



JOHN




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