without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
We're almost there! Feast is without a doubt the most compact and straight-to-the-throat Annihilator record since I don't even know when, and easily blows both the more recent post-millennial swill and the dubious solo-Waters records out of the water. Padden still embarrasses more often than he enthralls as a vocalist, but Waters is definitely having a blast behind him, banging out both his manic solos and chunky riffs in near-multitudinous quantities. As such, Feast is certainly far from perfect, but for modern Annihilator you gotta hand it to Waters on this one.
To draw some historical comparisons, many of Feast's riffs showcase that great Annihilator bouncing groove that was extensively featured on Set the World on Fire on tracks like "The Edge" and "No Zone." We still get the band's traditionally bone-dry, dessicated guitar tone, which helps sell some of the less creative moments on Waters' end. It certainly isn't as overbearing and farcical as the distortion on Waking the Fury, but multiple parallels can certainly be made to the final Comeau-fronted effort on a compositional end, as many of these tracks hail back to some of the group's few brighter spots over the past two decades. Feast generally picks and chooses it's influences wisely, having the wherewithal to avoid most of the lame modern trappings that seriously plagued Schizo Deluxe and especially All For You.
It helps that Padden is much more tolerable here. His cleans are still sort of hit-or-miss, but his normally-irritable shouting is significantly improved. Still, at his best Padden is just simply there, laid over the rest of the music like a wet rag. Annihilator has never had a completely proficient vocalist, even while each singer had his charms. Rampage exuded attitude but couldn't sing if his life depended on it, Pharr had a unique tone but rarely utilized his air-siren wails, Randall's cleans were smooth as silk but his barking inert and forceless, and while Waters has a good singing voice, his harsh yowls sound like a parody of extreme vocalists. This leaves Comeau, who still takes the top spot by quite a margin and elevated the two records he was featured on (especially the latter) to an echelon normally unattainable to late '90s Annihilator.
Despite his improvements, Padden still falls down toward one of the lower rungs of the aforementioned vocalist ladder. The requisite ballad "Perfect Angel Eyes" proves that he has passable singing chops if pressured, but the horrendous lyrics butcher what is otherwise a decent performance on his part. Some of the vocal melodies (especially on "Wrapped") are extremely lame and phoned-in, invoking memories of times less reputable. To his credit, I can confidently state that he isn't actively irritating here on Feast, which allows the listener to focus on Waters' input - even if he doesn't necessarily add much to the music either...and really, that's the biggest issue with Feast. This album focuses so much on it's torrential firepower (Waters' riffs) it forgets to watch it's blindside and is easily flanked. While Feast is certainly top-heavy in this regard, it still fires some real winners like "No Way Out" and "No Surrender," both of which move efficiently and feature some blistering riff sets, so cool deal.
While I threw All For You under the bus for it's overlong nature, Feast wraps up with two of it's more epic numbers in "Fight the World," and "One Falls, Two Rise." Both are highlights and embody new territory for Annihilator. The former is probably the best song here, and the section right after the five-minute mark is a true adrenaline shot. Please, Jeff, give us more of that! "One Falls, Two Rise" has a more cinematic scope and really ends the album on a great note. On the other end of the spectrum we have the rather directionless "Smear Campaign" and "Demon Code," so Feast is certainly not without it's fillers. Still, for Annihilator this is a great followup to the passable self-titled record, and the band is definitely consciously riding an upward swing similar (yet not nearly equal) to Overkill with Ironbound and The Electric Age. I still don't think Padden is the greatest fit, but what more can we really ask for at this juncture?