Annihilator // Feast
Rating: 2.5/5.0 — Not quite “all you can eat”
Label: UDR Music
Websites: annihilatormetal.com  |  myspace.com/annihilatorofficial
Release Dates:  EU: 2013.08.23  |  NA: 08.27.2013

Annihilator-FeastAnyone who read my review of Annihilator‘s malformed 2010 outing knows I’ve met my fair share of frustration and disappointment at their diabolical hands. For those who missed that ill-tempered screed, I lamented how they’ve made a career out of underperforming and steadfastly refusing to live up to the potential promised by their Alice in Hell debut. Hell, you can’t even look to them to turn out consistently decent albums, as more than a few have been bad. The thing that galls me most, is that almost every album has one or two tracks that hint at what founder/guitar-wizard Jeff Waters is capable of. The man can shred the skin off a snake from 500 paces and can even translate that into a memorable song or two, but often no more than that. It’s with this warm and fuzzy history that I approached their fourteenth album, Feast and to my surprise, it’s a definite step in the right goddamn direction. While it still suffers from some chronic and album crushing problems, the majority of the tunes actually work and it has more speed, anger and balls than they’ve mustered in a while.

Opener “Deadlock” is fast, fairly furious thrash and Jeff’s riffing and leads sound way more urgent and in-your-face than they have in forever. Long-time vocalist Dave Padden also steps up his game and gets edgy and venomous, even managing to sound like early 90s Tom Araya at times. It’s far from a perfect song, but it’s got pluck and the guitar-work is worth the admission price. “No Way Out” keeps the juices flowing with more fret-board heroics as Padden switches between barks and semi-poppy, quasi-emo singing. “Smear Campaign” starts out as speedy hard rock, but gets harder and faster and it works even though lines like “judge, you should not” make it seem as if Master Yoda is rocking the mic.

annihilator_2013_2“Demon Code” mixes driving thrash riffs with Faith No More-esque thumpy, funky bass and decently hooky vocals; “Fight the World” goes for anthemic, testosterone-y thrash and does a decent job of it and “One Falls, Two Rise” has quality ideas and is solid overall, but at eight-plus-minutes it gets tiring and drags.

The mistakes on Feast are fewer than usual, but they’re jarring and crippling nonetheless. “Pretty Angel Eyes” is a truly terrible, out-of-place teen love power-ballad with so much fake sweetness that it gave me diabetes AND gout and even decomposed my brand new box of  Twinkies® with lines like “you’re beautiful inside and outside too, a new beginning, me and you.” Really guys?? If the song was intended as a parody I could deal, but it isn’t and that horrifies me. Also quite bad is the Primus-meets-goofy-thrash of “No Surrender” where Waters does his best Les Claypool imitation amid shitty staccato riffs, super generic thrash ideas and crappy, brain-dead lyrics. It’s a big schizoid mess and flops around like a dying fish. Lastly, “Wrapped” embraces an ill-conceived hybrid of thrash and cock rock which pummels the listener with embarrassingly stupid double entendres which even Jackyl would pass on.

As always, Waters plays the befizzle out of his axe and there are many cool solos and interesting flourishes. His melodic soloing during the intro to “Fight the World” is classy and sublime and  he has a raft of such cool moments throughout “One Falls, Two Rise.” However, as is his want, he too often relies on simplistic, reheated thrash riffs to drive the material along, though less so this time out, thankfully. unfortunately, his experiments with funky, clicky bass styles throughout Feast often distract and undermine the material and feel ill-suited to the thrashy nature of the music. This ain’t Infectious Grooves, eh?

jeff_watersThough I’ve had my issues with Padden’s vocals in the past, he isn’t the problem here and he actually impressed on several of the songs. He isn’t what I’d call a vocal powerhouse, but he’s versatile and his vocals almost save tunes like “No Surrender.”  He definitely gives a better performance than on the previous album and seems to be coming into his own.

I keep rooting for these Canuck lunkheads to uncork a ripper of an album and Feast teases just enough to keep me rooting. If they could just stop shooting themselves in the foot with terrible songs like “Pretty Angel Eyes” we might see them hit that late career high note. Until then, I’ll content myself with a six-out-of-nine ratio, cherry pick accordingly and hope for better tomorrows. It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n’ roll.

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  • Jason Cofer

    Man, I agree with the promise that Alice in Hell brought, but I’d add in Never Neverland minus two tracks as well. Man that shit brings me back to 11th grade. I haven’t listened to any new stuff from them since that atrocious Set the World on Fire. Maybe I’ll give this one a try.

    • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

      That’s valid, Never Neverland was a very good album with one one or two awful songs. If you are gonna try newer stuff, try Criteria for a Black Widow and maybe Waking the Fury. Those were pretty decent and better than this by far.

    • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

      That’s valid, Never Neverland was a very good album with one one or two awful songs. If you are gonna try newer stuff, try Criteria for a Black Widow and maybe Waking the Fury. Those were pretty decent and better than this by far.

  • Al Tatts

    Up and down again. I see the track listing for the album on iTunes here in NZ has a 15 song “best of” tagged onto it.

    • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

      They’re all re-recorded classic tunes.

  • RilesBell

    The first 4 Annihilator albums are all solid IMO with Set the World on Fire being my favorite. After that it gets really hit and miss much like this album appears. Lose the ballads and get a better vocalist or just let Jeff do the vocals himself.

    • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

      I always liked Jeff’s vocals myself.

    • Here’s Johnny

      Padden has proved himself more and more each album, hes a very good and versatile vocalist. are we still going on about him in 2013 when hes been in the band for nearly 10 years now. have you seen them live recently? padden has his own style and he can do the ballads and replicate for the most part what the other vocalists did in the classic songs. what more you want, fucking hell.

      • RilesBell

        I wouldn’t say he is versatile. That’s actually why I dislike his vocals. He seems very one dimensional and lacks any kind of unique quality in his voice. Sure he can get the job done but he really isn’t aggressive enough for the music. I live in Ottawa so yes, I’ve seen them live. Jeff practically lives down the street from me. My main complaints are largely the ones that are outlined in this review. The songwriting is poor and if I could have it my way there would be a new vocalist to inject some kind of energy and perhaps bring in an external producer to change things up a bit. 10 years is a long time but perhaps they are getting a little too comfortable at this point.

        • Here’s Johnny

          if you have issues with his vocals that fine, for some reason people will never take to him. i don’t get the not versatile bit. hes superb on the ballad and always sounds good to me on the aggressive stuff. hes improved a ton since schizo deluxe. he can do the modern vocals much better than any of the older vocalists would be able to aswell.

  • http://underratedreviews.wordpress.com/ Fuzius

    The whole annihilator thing is really weird isn’t it. The guy is so awesome yet most his material is so inconsistent. but you can’t help but root for him and be glad he is out there doing his thing.

    • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

      I do root for him though sometimes I wonder why. It’s like an abusive relationship!

  • Here’s Johnny

    i don’t get your ill tempered screed as you put it towards the last album or this band in general. you don’t like them much anymore i get it. none of the recent albums will touch their earlier albums of course and same could be said for the big 4. for me its just really enjoyable kick arse thrash metal, not a ton of substance but 100 times better than the shit megadeth or metallica release. i saw annihilator a couple times recently live and they put those bands to shame with how tight and precise they are.

    • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

      My point is, the band is one of the most predictable under-perfomers out there and routinely release half-assed albums and hurt themselves by including utterly shitty songs like “Pretty Angel Eyes” when I know they are capable of more.

      • Here’s Johnny

        i understand the reputation but i dunno ever since waking the fury i think they have been quite consistent. ive enjoyed all of them with the exception of All For You. The last 4 albums are good quality modern thrash. they toured with Trivium in UK(i hate them too i know) couple years back and seem to have brought a lot of young fans in. not to say they are that relevant anymore but they do lend themselves well to something more modern, like anthrax’s last album. musically metallica,megadeth,slayer aren’t relevant anymore while annihilator seem to do modern metal much better. agreed a couple of clunkers each album stops them having an amazing on their hand each time. just my opinion.

        • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

          I hear what your saying and they’re capable of good stuff, that’s why I get so annoyed by the bad stuff.

        • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

          I hear what your saying and they’re capable of good stuff, that’s why I get so annoyed by the bad stuff.

          • Here’s Johnny

            having listened to the album a few times now i cant believe your score. apart from ‘wrapped’ the album smokes really. the ballad is very listenable. the last two tracks are absolute classic annihilator especially. a def 4/5 for me. with only 9 songs the album has no extra crap on it and is probably one of the most consistent albums for annihilator in a long time. the album feels vital, compare that to most of their contemporaries. sickens me the undeserved shit this band gets in the metal media at times. please don’t review this band again. thank you ;)

          • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

            If this feels vital to you, please don’t go into medicine. They have talent, but this thing is nowhere remotely near a 4.0. Not even close. I’ll keep calling em out for crappy music until they stop releasing it. That’s kind of my job.

          • Here’s Johnny

            but Ataraxie whoever they are get a 4.5. i had a listen to that and it was very basic doom metal nothing special at all but a classic band gets kinda trashed once more. megadeth deserved the score on super collider, its appalling. annihilator release a kick ass album but some people can’t let go of this inconsistent reputation from the 90s. the last 4 albums have been really good, waking the fury was great too. i don’t get it. once you have that reputation people just won’t let go of it i guess. im not one of them.

          • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

            I’ve listened to these guys from their debut and I like em, but they are not at all consistent. I hated their last one and gave them credit here for improving. The ballad alone is a reason to drop grades and they have a few other duds here too.