Annihilator_Suicide SocietyThose who’ve been around the blog a while know I’ve been feudin’ and beefin’ with Annihilator for so long, even AMG thinks my mind is gone. I’ve taken their past few albums to task because I know they’re capable of so much more than the half-hearted, formulaic party thrash they’ve delivered for the better part of their 26 year career. How do I know this? Because I’ve listened to their stellar Alice in Hell debut more times than I can count, and also love their Never, Neverland follow-up. It’s been a rocky road since, with every good album followed by one or more duds, making their name synonymous with disappointment in the stately House of Steel. 2013s Feast was a slight step in the right direction but still suffered from numerous (and typical) Annihilator issues. I expected another sonic dumpster fire on Suicide Society, but to my befuddled bewilderment, Jeff Waters and company took another step forward toward the good side of metal. Well, knock me over with a king-sized serving of poutine!

Right off the bat, Mr. Waters resuming vocal duties is a boon for the band. Dave Padden had been the man behind the mic since 2004 and honestly, I never cared for his voice. While Waters is no Jorn Lande, his style always seemed a better fit for the music he composed. With Waters at the helm, the opening title track sits somewhere between traditional metal and hard rock with minor thrash flair ups, and the whole enchilada reeks of early 90s Annihilator and long defunct but amusing acts like Powermad and Scatterbrains. There are even some 70s prog touches in the riffs that will make Opethians sit up and take notice. “My Revenge” is a fairly urgent thrasher with good energy, though it sounds close enough to “Damage Inc.” where Mr. Waters can expect an angry email from a certain Danish twit…ter user. It shares another trait with Metallica too – it goes on a few minutes too long. Not bad though. “Snap” is the oddball of the album, attempting a kind of hard rock and metal crossover approximating a Korn and Suicidal Tendencies collaboration circa 1994. It’s funky and chunky with a big, dumb chorus designed to stick in the ear like a pop hit. I want to dislike it, but I can’t, and that scares me a little.

“Creepin Again” is a ripper straight from the band’s golden age and one of the best songs they’ve penned in 20 years. It’s thrashy, punchy and the chorus is very memorable. There’s a Metallica vibe floating in and out of the arrangements and Waters’ slippery solo work is impressive as always. “Narcotic Avenue” is convincingly pissed off and angry, which is something Annihilator‘s sound has been missing for far too long. There’s an interesting Dead Kennedys vibe teamed with what sounds like outtakes from “The Thing That Should Not Be” and “Hellion/Electric Eye” during “The One You Serve” and this results in a surprisingly heavy, grinding tune (and yet another email from Denmark).

Annihilator_2015

Things begin to slide a bit by the album’s final third, but none of the songs are outright bad, and though Waters’ lyrics about the displeasures of being burglarized on “Break, Enter” are painful to hear, the lead riff and fiery playing partially make up for it.

As always, Mr. Waters shows he’s an elite guitar player. The entire Annihilator construct depends on his flashy playing and there’s plenty of it here. Though he’s had a tendency to write generic riffs in the past, the ones here are better than average and often take things back to the band’s early days. His bass-work is also fine and much more present than usual without sounding all slappy-happy like a low-rent Primus. Achieving the trifecta, he sounds good vocally, using a traditional hard rock delivery along with an effective thrash bark. He’s limited as a singer, but he’s always made the most of what he’s got and I’ll take him any day over Dave Padden’s “modern metal” delivery.

Though both Annihilator and Megadeth have drifted from their respective thrash roots towards a hard rock limbo over the years, Suicide Society shows signs of a second (or fifth) wind and this allows the band to avoid their own Super Collider. After this unexpected success, my days of beefin’ with Annihilator may have come to an end, or at least a grudging middle. Nicely played, Mr. Waters. Keep putting your best foot forward and never stop reaching for those glory days. That’s what guitar heroes do.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: UDR Music
Websites: annihilatormetal.com | facebook.com/Annihilator
Releases Worldwide: September 18th 2015

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  • Sebastian Bugge

    You forgot to mention that Snap is a copy of Rammstein’s Ich Tur Die Weh :)

  • Oddly enough, I never quite got on with Annihilator’s classic period but love Criteria for a Black Widow like no other late 90s thrash record.

  • Opus_Death

    A 3.0? Is that good? IMO is a 2.5 at most.

    • You wot m8?

      I’d give it a 2.0.

  • brutal_sushi

    I was introduce to Annihilator with Schizo Deluxe and never was put off by Padden’s vocals.

    • Prostidude

      I always regarded Schizo Deluxe as Annihilators best record (closely followed by Alice In Hell). Padden sounds righteously pissed off the entire album, his vocals are especially transcending on the song ‘warbird’.

  • RuySan

    The title track sounds too much early 90’s for its own good, and for some reason reminds me of Ugly Kid Joe. Never cared much for Annihilator, so there’s no reason for disappointment.

    • Yeah, I guess I can hear a little Ugly Kid Joe in there.

  • You wot m8?

    I like the sound, but honestly, I can’t listen to this. It’s much too “on the nose”. No subtlety, no cleverness. Basically, this is Disturbed, but with less interesting instumentals, and a much less versatile vocalist.

    To all those that somehow find it in themselves to enjoy this, cheers!

  • Wilhelm

    Besides Alice In Hell, I never cared much for Annihilator. That embedded video/song is awful, I mean dusty bottle bottom shelf…on par with the last Megadeth album.

    • The title track is much milder than the bulk of the material. Track down “My Revenge” or Creepin’ Again” to get a better feel for the sound.

  • Man, I walk into work and Steel drops the S-bomb in his latest review. Can we just ban the use of the term “Super Collider” from all future reviews? Think of the children.

    • Had to be done. I regret nothing.

      • Of course you know that every time you use the word “Super Collider” in a review, a kitty dies.

        • Worldeater

          Schrödinger’s kitty?

          • sir_c

            the kitty is not dead, it just smells funny

          • Hulksteraus

            The Kitty may be dead, or it may be alive, but we don’t know till we look. Oh, kitty dead…

  • Mad_Iguana

    I’m guessing from the first sentence of the review that you ain’t never crossed a band that didn’t deserve it?

    • CarvedInStone

      AMG be treated like a punk, you know that’s unheard of!

      • André Snyde Lopes

        They keep spending most their lives livin’ in a metal reviewer’s paradise.

        • CarvedInStone

          ‘Cuz he’s been listening to Jorn so long, that

          Even Steel Druhm thinks that his mind is gone!

          • André Snyde Lopes

            There’s vomit on his chain-mail already,
            Jorn’s spaghetti!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Hmmm not sure…oh look Saxon have a new record!

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Waters & co. can write excellent stuff, and there’s one or two cool songs in each of their new albums but they so absolutely mediocre (and satisfied with it) it’s frustrating. I mean listen to something like Imperiled Eyes or Human Insecticide and then listen to any of these new albums (self-titled, Feast, this one) and tell me you’re not crushingly disappointed.

    This might be an okay record but, like the rest of their discography after Never, Neverland, it’s just (excuse the pun) treading water.

    • I agree with everything you said. However, this is the most consistent platter Waters has put out in a long time. It’s no Alice in Hell, but waiting for that ship is a lost cause.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      By Waters & co. you mean Jeff Waters and… Jeff Waters? He´s been running the show by himself since… ever?

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Yep, you’re right, even though on Alice in Hell he shared most of the writing credits with the other guys, it has pretty much always been the Jeff Waters show.

        His well has ran dry and he should pack it in and stick to live shows. I’ve heard they are pretty entertaining live.

        • Alexandre Barata

          Oh they are amazing live. I don’t “like” Annihilator since King of the Kill, but live, they’re just amazing. Jeff is an amazing entertainer!

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Metal is likely the most forgiving of all genres. It is probably the only genre where a band can still have a career after releasing one or two groundbreaking albums 30 or 20 years ago and then just… coasting. Annihilator, Machine Head, Fear Factory… the list could go on.

  • Thrash is so not my genre, and this song is not even particularly good thrash… It bores me to tears.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    So much Annihilator hate going on in these comments :(

    • And here I was being all positive about this album. You jaded bastards ruin everything!

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        Annihilator “ruined” me years ago. I will continue to come back to them and buy their shit just to spite the haters.

        • Was this during your time in that Columbian prison?

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Yeah, I got annihilated.

    • Alexandre Barata

      Well in truth the album is just barely Thrash Metal, wish can make people waiting for something heavy a bid disappointed (although they weren’t an heavy band to begin with). But, although I don’t really enjoy this Hard Rock vein every “classic” band from the States and Canada took in, I do love Jeff guitar, and that probably makes them the top band of that Thrashy Hard Rock style.

      • Alexandre Barata

        Wow just saw that, instead of “wish” it should say “which”… My english isn’t great but that is a bit too much!!! ahahah

  • Lasse Momme

    Thank god padden is finally out of this band, his voice literally killed anything even close to enjoyment for me when I listened to annihilator records. Waters isn’t an incredible vocalist by any stretch of the imagination but i’ll take middling and anonymous over aggressively bad and cringeworthy any day of the week.

    As for the rest of the record I agree that it is leagues above basically anything they’ve released in over a decade and Jeff’s lead work is something that will never get old to me, his style is absolutely incredible. It’s still a long way from even sniffing what Alice and Neverland was, but considering how putrid their more recent work has been and how bad old thrash bands usually have been over the past few years I’ll take whatever I can.

  • Pimpolho

    They are so forgettable at the moment… From the embedded track, i don’t think that will change.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    I haven’t yet taken the time to listen to the entire thing but based on the songs I have heard this is a step back into the pool of stool.
    Not a single change seems to be for the good.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    The title track has some of the most ham-fisted ‘political’ lyrics I’ve ever heard. Combine that with the hilarious expressions of Jeff Waters and I have another reason not to take this band seriously.

    • madhare

      I was just going to comment here pretty much the same. My reaction to the video was that… “Oh, it’s someone’s middle-aged middle-class dad ranting his mild frustration at the world after a long day sitting in his office cubicle”.

      I just keep expecting his son/daughter/wife to pop up and say something like “Yeah, yeah, whatever, dad/Jeffie. Maybe should head back to the garage for another beer and fixing your bike.”

      • sir_c

        You know, sometimes one dimension is enough. Just shake that big ham fist and yell two-syllable choruses until the record is over.

  • This never gets old.

    • sir_c

      and the story deserves to be retold to future generations

      • Napster! Napster! where’s the cash that I’ve been after?

  • Philip Pledger

    What I like about Annihilator these days is that they know a good riff when they see it. What I don’t like about Annihilator these days is that they will then steal the riff or song in question from the band that actually wrote it and claim it for their own. There was a video floating around the release of Feast (it has since either been taken down or buried under an avalanche of guitar covers on Youtube; I couldn’t find it to post here) that put several of the riffs from that album up against riffs from other prominent bands (I remember Slayer being among them). Sure enough, the songs were close enough for me to remove Feast from my rotation. As a guitarist, riff lifting is something that really, REALLY grinds my gears. Unfortunately, it looks like Annihilator’s still doing here what they seem to do best lately: playing other people’s music with shameless abandon, from Metallica’s Damage Inc. (My Revenge) to Rammstein’s Ich Tu Dir Weh (Snap). I think they are talented musicians, but I feel physically ill listening to this.

  • Brian

    12 years ago I discovered Annihilator through the song ‘Denied’ from ‘Carnival Diablos’. The quasi-tech thrash was absolute manna to me. I had stumbled upon what would be my hands-down favourite band for the next 3 years. I was also never a Padden hater as the band had already been through a whole bunch of different singers by the time I got into them. However, the first doubts were sown with the release of ‘Metal’, a record drowning in guest appearances and lack of focus. They came back strongly with the self-titled in 2010. I really did not expect something so aggressive from Jeff at this stage and ‘Feast’, by and large, continued the good work.

    As far as this new album is concerned, I’m not sure about it yet. The title track is kinda plodding, apart from the brief thrash flourishes and the subject matter…..well, let’s just say that the one thing that would’ve benefited Jeff the most throughout the years would’ve been a consistent lyricist. His lyrics are clumsy, ham-fisted – almost as if English is not his first language. And on his 15th full-length there really is no excuse for rewriting ‘Damage Inc’. Seriously, Jeff? Did you play this track for anyone before putting it on the album? Coz this is a massive red flag! Fortunately the album gets a bit better after ‘Snap’ despite some of the choruses following the same basic pattern of SHOUT! SOME WORDS! MAYBE?! THE SONG TITLE!
    I also wish that Jeff would get over his obsession with that 1-2-3-4-5-6 clean melody that he’s been using on every album. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s there in ‘Creepin’ Again’ as it was in a couple of songs on the last album. If I had the editing skills (and could be arsed, which I can’t) I’d make a compilation video of Jeff’s 1-2-3-4-5-6 melody usage right from AIH all the way to this new album.

    You might say “that sounds pretty negative, do you actually like Annihilator at all?” Well, yes. That distinctive, dessicated guitar tone, the incredible picking hand of Waters and the sheer HEFT that the guy manages to get into his riffs. ‘Break/Enter’ is an incredible example of this, just listen to how heavy those verse riffs are. All of that is coming from his picking hand, I can’t think of any other guitarist or band in heavy metal that accomplishes this exact feat. Listen to ‘Payback’ from the self-titled for another example – absolutely fucking savagely heavy. This is exactly, EXACTLY what I want to hear from my heavy metal. Jeff Waters manages, in a highly flawed, haphazard way, to write and record the exact sounds that make my metal brain go nuts, even if those same sounds are not always surrounded by the greatest of vocals and/or songs. There’s nobody else in metal who I can say that about and for that I’ll always have time for him.

    • Impressive comment! Want a demanding but non-paying job where you get bossed around by people you’ll never actually meet in person?

      • Brian

        Wow, that’s the best offer of non-paid work I’ve ever had! Easily beats ‘regular barbeques’ down into 2nd place!

      • dblbass23

        This actually caught my opinion too. A demanding but non-paying job and getting bossed around? HOLY COW! I would LOVE that too!! But my southern accent would make me a target for the masses. When it comes through in print….it’s pretty massive.

  • Eryops

    They never have, and never will, top Kraf Dinner.

  • El Lado Oscuro

    barely a 2.5, prolly a 2 would be more than fair, IMHO

  • KingKuranes

    I’m listening to “My Revenge” right now and I think Lars might be justified in sending a nasty email. Let’s just say the Wax Audio guy would not have a hard time making a “Revenge, Inc.” mashup.

  • Winston

    I enjoy this album now that I’ve accepted it as Jeff’s homage to better bands.