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A Gift for True Annihilator Fans - 90%

DawnoftheShred, April 16th, 2007

Step right up, ladies and gentleman. This is Bag of Tricks, the Annihilator rarities disc. A unique and varied collection, this hefty catalog of tracks is sure to please both the metal newbie and the seasoned Annihilator purist with its flawless portrayal of the band's early years, a mystical time far before frontman Jeff Waters would blow his load on fruitless experimentation. Gather round and listen well, as this collection assuredly beats out the studio albums that would follow its release.

Whatever it is thy heart desires from this band, Bag of Tricks will deliver. Would you like to hear more from Randy Rampage? Then it is this you shall receive. Right off the bat this album delivers a remastered version of the classic "Alison Hell," a unique early recording of "Phantasmagoria," this time with Randy on vocals, and an unbelievably energetic live recording of "Human Insecticide." But perhaps you'd like to hear some things you've never heard before. In that case, enjoy some early unreleased tracks, some featuring Rampage, others featuring his successor Coburn Pharr (some of the riffs from these would go into "Never Neverland," while others have been all but lost). Maybe it's live tracks that really tickle your fancy. Behold then, some more recordings from the Never Neverland tour (yes "WTYD" can be found on their In Command live album, but the rest are exclusively here). "Okay," you say, "but what if I liked some of the songs off of the Set the World On Fire album, but I really hated that Aaron Randall chump's lispy-ass voice." Then I say to you, it is done. Bag of Tricks features early versions of "Knight Jumps Queen," "Bats in the Belfry," and "Don't Bother Me" (entitled here as "Evil Appetite") with then-singer Coburn Pharr providing the pipes. Tack on a few rough '86 recordings with Jeff doing his damnedest death metally vocals and you've got almost 80 minutes of Annihilator at their rawest, their rarest, and their most pure.

Yes...cower in fear at the lost riffage. Tremble in the presence of original drummer Ray Hartmann's mighty percussion (and no, your ears don't deceive you, those are indeed blast beats you're occasionally hearing on the early demos). Stand in awe at the mighty beast of thrash that once was Annihilator and pray with utmost conviction that their current path of self-parody and musical abandon will come to a swift and respectable end. Keep the Annihilator of yesteryear alive in your hearts and do yourself a favor: pick up this collection.