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Dave Padden's Annihilator has been an interesting animal, certainly hit and miss. All For You and Metal were just ok efforts, but this album and the self-titled were kickass. Granted, this album has some pretty odd song ideas sometimes, but overall it's a great listen.
This is an interesting mix of music. For the most part, it's pretty intense and doesn't let up. The album also seems like a mix of old and new Annihilator sounds, however unlike All For You it comes together quite beautifully.
The production on this album is pretty good. It's well-mixed and clear, yet still has a raw, powerful sound to it. I honestly wish Jeff did whatever he did on this album with some of the other newer Annihilator albums because it sounds fucking awesome. The songs are all great with the exception of Clare, and Jeff is at the top of his game. The riffs on most of the songs, both the fast and mid-tempo songs, absolutely slay.
Dave Padden has also greatly improved over the previous effort. He sounds pretty good on most of the songs and has some pretty ridiculous moments on the album (the last scream on Warbird and the chorus on Invite It are good examples).
Some of the songs are a bit off, though. This is an album you have to listen to a few times in order to appreciate. The first time I listened to this album, to be honest, I was a bit taken back, but it has grown on me since. Give it a listen and you'll enjoy this if you like anything else this band has done.
In my honest opinion, there are not enough great things that can be said for Jeff Waters and his baby, Annihilator. In an age where thrash metal was second only to hair metal in terms of popularity of heavy music, Annihilator were a welcome addition (and stand-out) to a scene that quickly becoming over-saturated with less-talented bands as the major labels were all trying to recapture the market power of bands like Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer.
What set Annihilator apart from their peers was a very strong sense of technique and melody, not to mention a guiding light in one Jeff Waters, a Flying V-wielding shredmeister who was always at the center of the bands songwriting and guitar histrionics. The new album sees the band once again remaining a virtual Waters solo effort, with the exception of what seems to be a session drummer (in the more-than-adequate Tony Chappelle), and lead vocals handled by a returning Dave Padden. This reviewer personally feels that “Never, Neverland,” is the be-all, end-all Annihilator effort and that it will never be topped. That aside, this is easily the closest that Jeff Waters has come to doing just that. The music is fucking ridiculously heavy.
“Drive” is a faster song more reminiscent of the ‘Annihilator sound,’ although it’s even a bit meeker than songs coming later in the album. “Plasma Zombies” is a truly awesome ode to violent videogames, and “Warbird,” although sounding a bit more like newer Exodus than Annihilator, is an awesome slow thrasher that’s fit for headbanging. “Too Far Gone” is the only lead vocal provided by Mr. Waters, and it’s a cool pit song in it’s own right. A treat for those that buy the version of this disc with bonus tracks, is the song “Weapon X, which is an awesome thrasher that for whatever reason was rejected from the final version of “All For You.” The real winner here though, is “Invite It.” It is a 100% thrashing tune with catchy lyrics and even a little bit of silliness in latter choruses provided by Mr. Dave Padden, who has this really amazing voice that sounds a bit like actor Tim Curry (Rocky Horror Picture Show, McHale’s Navy, Clue: The Movie, Congo, etc.). Other times (like the bridge of “Invite It”), he has a really cool, mellower tone that could easily be top 40, but it works wonders here on more melodic passages.
I’m starting to think that Jeff Waters CAN’T put out a bad CD...
Annihilator’s Schizo Deluxe is a powerful album and certainly of very high quality. Schizo Deluxe mixes Annihilator’s early technical thrash metal style with their more modern groove metal sound. Now I am not usually that fond of groove metal but on Schizo Deluxe it is of such high quality that I can’t help but love each and ever song. The average song length is just under 5 minutes each not unusual for Annihilator.
The songs are mixed between up-tempo tech thrash and mid-tempo groovy assaults and even some melodic aspects like on Clare. Just listen to the technical leads on songs like Drive and Invite It they are breath taking. Even the faster songs have some groovy riffs and make Pantera look like a bunch of sissies. Power chords are used sparingly for the amount of groove metal presence on Schizo Deluxe. Atmosphere is only present on songs like Clare and the semi-melodic parts of Maximum Satan and Plasma Zombies. The production really shines on Schizo Deluxe mixing each instrument clearly in the mix but at the same time focusing on Jeff Waters excellent lead guitar work.
Ever band member is at the top of his game and certainly adds high quality performances to each song. Jeff Water’s peppers each song with his traditional crazy technical guitar leads, solos and equally pummeling riffs. His bass work is pretty fricking heavy and adds some real heavy low end punch to every song. Dave Padden uses a mainly mid-range groove metal oriented voice but also alternates between his melodic singing, shouts, and screams. Listen to his quite long scream at the end of Warbird it’s priceless; he is definitely an underrated vocalist. Tony Chappelle drumming is very solid and uses his double kick bass, fills very effectively, and shifts between quite a few different beats on each song.
Only a few weaknesses are present on Schizo Deluxe and they don’t affect it that much. First off the last half isn’t as powerful or entertaining and seems to lag a bit. Clare is a weird song and doesn’t fit that well on this album considering it is by far the most melodic song on the album. Finally Something Witchy has a very weird ending with a lot of weird squirrel like voices and synthesized vocals ending the album very unusually.
Schizo Deluxe is a mainly underrated album and certainly be hailed as a very high quality album and one of Annihilator’s best release thus far. Best songs are Maximum Satan, Drive, Plasma Zombies, Invite It, and Pride. I highly recommend this release to fans of technical thrash metal, groove metal, and any fan of the almighty Annihilator.
-2 points second half is a bit weaker and less powerful
-2 points Clare doesn’t fit well on Schizo Deluxe considering its far more melodic nature
-2 points Something Witchy’s extremely weird ending
Annihilator has historically proven to be its own worst enemy, as every time they’ve gotten a good idea going, they seem to jam on the brakes and reassess what is going on around them before punching the gas again. After releasing two certifiable thrash powerhouses, Jeff Waters looks at the groove craze going on and decides its time to make some changes, paving the way for the disastrous “Remains” debacle. Later on after recovering a bit with “Criteria For A Black Widow” and doing almost the exact same thing as the first two albums, but with a more modern sounding set of speed metal albums in “Carnival Diablos” and “Waking The Fury”, metalcore became the thing to sound like so once again our favorite metal weathervane jumped ship and gave us the horrid “All For You”.
The question is where does that leave this latest offering “Schizo Deluxe”. The answer is actually something along the same lines as “Criteria For A Black Widow” in terms of quality, but with a stronger riff assault and a weaker vocal delivery, and stylistically a bit closer to “Carnival Diablos“. There’s a little bit of weirdness lifted from “Set The World On Fire” smattered here and there, but basically this album amounts to Waters responding to a backlash to the last album by piling on as many technical riffs as he can throw together. The results are a mixed bag, depending on how strongly Dave Padden’s voice manages to pull everything else down, but this is basically the best of the three albums that said metalcore oriented vocalist has been present on.
There are a good number of solid speed/thrash crushers on here that ride that cliché mid tempo double bass rumble in the mode heard on Judas Priest’s “Jugulator”. “Maximum Satan” and “Like Father, Like Gun” follow this model quite effectively, with a little bit more of a consonant melodic contour than what you’d get out of Priest during that era. Padden’s vocals manage to remain strong by sticking to a semi-dirty, albeit bellowing Thrash character and mostly avoiding those decrepit hard core screams that sound like a goat choking on a dildo-spaded piece of barbed wire. But the real meat and potatoes comes blazing out with “Plasma Zombies”, which goes back to that crazed, riff happy mayhem that was heard on “Alice In Hell”. It’s a little bit more technical than classics such as “Human Insecticide” and “Ligeia”, but vocally not quite as catchy and hard hitting.
For the most part, things stay relatively strong for the first 4/5ths of the album, barring the occasional fit of vocal ridiculousness out of Padden like that really annoying 15 second whiny shout at the end of “Warbird”. But by the end Jeff feels the need to appease some of the newer fans of the band who ate up “All For You” and threw in two crappy Trivium inspired songs at the end. “Clare” would be fairly decent if it wasn’t for that really comical sounding chorus and those failure at tough guy shouting moments in between. “Something Witchy” is an all out failure, essentially taking all of the worst elements of “All For You” together into one lyrically idiotic shout fest that comes close to hitting overt “Far Beyond Driven” levels of redundant groove plodding in the riff department.
As a whole, this is fairly good by recent thrash standards, but this doesn’t really stack up to certified classics like “Alice In Hell” or solid later efforts such as “Waking The Fury”. If you own one album by this band with Dave Padden on vocals, this would be the one to get. It has a little bit of a Killswitch Engage feel to it a lot of the time, so I think that people who go for that vocal approach will like this. Otherwise, I’d think twice before blowing more than $10 on this.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on May 12, 2009.
Annihilator, despite all the talent that Jeff Waters encompasses, has a lot of highs and lows in their career. It’s up, down, up, down so many times that either I’m severely disappointed with a release or completely awestruck. Fortunately, Schizo Deluxe is a definite high point for the band.
Since the establishment of vocalist John Padden it seems as though the band just progressively gets stronger and thrashier. Despite the controversy of the previous album (All For You), Annihilator doesn’t miss a beat – and nails everything that the last album was heading towards. Jeff Waters has really set the bar once again for his own talents and those of the other band members.
Basically and the easiest way to generalize the sound that is present on Schizo Deluxe is a perfect combination of Alice in Hell and All For You. For those of you unfamiliar with Annihilator back catalogs this simply means that the album has an old school thrash mentality presented in a very modern and groove oriented approach. It’s one of the best modern thrash albums that has been released.
The guitar work (not all that surprising from Jeff Waters) is absolutely stunning. The precision that Jeff uses is like listening to pure ecstasy for guitar players. His rhythm tracks are catchy, unique, heavy, and fast – something that is hard to combine without deterring from the rest of the music. The leads are technical and sharp. Waters really doesn’t hold back the shredding from evolving on Schizo Deluxe. The solos are emotional and pure gold. This is some of his best guitar work in decades.
The one thing about Annihilator that I always appreciated was the use of the bass guitar as a fleshed out instrument instead of a simple back-up or underlying sound. The bass is no different on this album with plenty of catchy heavy deep tones that pop forward in some of the breaks of the music. The drums are also very technical but somewhat of the weakest part of the instrumental part of the album. By weakest, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t spectacular by any means – because they are. This is just relevance to the how well the music is written on the album and how talented Jeff Waters truly is.
The most controversial part of the “newest” Annihilator lineup is vocalist John Padden. His appearance on the last album brought about claims of “nu metal” and “sell-out” but John really shows his colors on Schizo Deluxe – much to the dismay of his naysayers. He gives the album great variety with some harsher tones intermixed with higher parts. His slight and unusual tongue-in-cheek approach fits extremely well with the slightly ridiculous nature of the lyrics that Jeff Waters pens.
The lyrics as stated above continue Jeff’s slightly humored approach to writing. Not all the lyrics are this way – there are very serious topics approached in the lyrics like violence in the media, war, terrorism, and mental disorders (specifically schizophrenia as the title so elegantly approaches). There are just moments in every song that seem worded a little strangely. It works well with the music (and even the really quick change at the beginning of the song “Pride” often brings out laughter).
I personally loved All For You but Schizo Deluxe easily tops that album along with most of the albums released by Annihilator in the past decade. I voted this album as best album of the year for 2005.
Songs to check out: Warbird, Pride, Clare.
I really don't understand why people give this album such high ratings.
First we have Maximum Satan, with a stupid ass intro, kicking off with riffs that at first sound very numetal, and then breaking into a lead with the shit still in the background. Then in comes dave Padden, who on this song sounds like a more harmonized version of mudvaynes lead singer. If you try to compare the two you'll get what I mean. The slowness (and lowness) of the riffs continues but, still are above numetal standards. Overall this is a very boring track with riffs that clearly fail at being thrash and total bitching by Padden.
Second we have (I suppose) one of the better track on the album. It starts off (after the dumb intro) with some semi-old school sounds thrash riffs. They are followed by a somewhat-impressive solo by Waters (who actually can play) and a menaingless "eeeeeeeow" by Padden. Then it picks up the pace and uses a combination of weak-thrash and groove riffs. Then they go into another attempted thrash section with Padden trying to sound "badass" in a Tom Araya type way (this is pretty much a slayer rip-off in this section, despite how little it sounds like them and obviously it fails, but at least its closer to thrash than before. Then the chorus comes in and its evident the problem of the album, the lyrics. "Im alright, im okay, i'll survive another day, Im alright, go away can't you hear the words I say!!" says Padden. Does that sound like badass thrash to you? Not me. Then this whole process repeats and goes into a pretty damn kickass solo after the second chorus. Unfortunatly after that another section of the song comes in with Padden singing "Sometimes I think I'm going under! Don't know if I can take no more! But then I turn them into hunger! I'll turn this battle into war!" Wow, clearly Waters wanted this to be a "thrash anthem!" but, the overly positive (and not well-written) lyrics take this to a level of shittiness not associated with reall thrash. Some of the faster thrash-Groove combination riffing and the riffs in first couple chorus's, while being ripped off (and later recycled) make the song listenable. There are some other decent and other horrible things I neglected to point out, because I lost interest in the song before it was done. At least the song is slightly catchy....
The next song is Warbird, which starts off relatively good sounding and keep the riff going for a bit. Then a Bass-line comes in, followed by some decent (but still slow) thrash (SOUNDING) riffs, with Padden sounding like a pussy yet again, but not head-achingly so. I have listened to this song more than twice, and still can not remember anything about it besides the fact that it is slow. Nothing special at all here, yet it may be one of the best songs on the album because nothing is overly terrible. They speed up the song from slow to midpaced around 2:07 and keep it going until a slight variation around 2:47 and back into the slowness where it is revealed that the song is really a slow-groove-like Pantera rip-off, with another decent solo by Waters. The riffs sound almost like thrash at times, but the song is slow, repetitive, and dull.
Next is Plasma Zombies, with an intro that sounds dumb but, realates to the song. Then decent riffs kick in and it sounds like the song might be ok. Then some groove-type riffs come in at the same pace as the drums. Then the vocals come in and the song goes to shit in more ways than one. The lyrics define what ISN'T THRASH!! "come and play in a world where DEATH is fUN! VIOLENCE sex and murder are at your fingertips" Now mentioning death may be considered thrash metal-esque to some, but it all depends on the context. The line "VIOLENCE sex and murder are at your fingertips" gives a potentially horrible hint about what this song is really about. Then the chorus comes in and it confirms all horrible thoughts. "ROBOT NATION, our creation, teacher's on the screen! showing little children things that never should be seen." THATS RIGHT! Annihilator are whining about video games having a negative impact on society! Are....you...fucking...kidding...me.....Now I consider myself to not necesarily agree with all the stereotypes of what lyrics "are" or "are not" metal. people can talk about whatever they want if they cna write well and/or just don't give a fuck and care more about the music. However, THESE LYRICS are the anti-metal. Honestly. Every line in the song goes deeper (yet shallower) into supporting the politicans theories about video games teaching kids the wrong things, and being the reason for shootings and such. Maybe they would rather parents take their kids into war and let them watch REAL violence to learn, because either fucking way they're going to find out about violence, obviously. Id like to take this time again to credit how unbiased these moderators MUST (and I sure as hell mean must) be to accept certain reviews and users, because I swear that i just read one reviewer below call these lyrics "brilliant." The riffs that almost sounded decent at the begining wear thin as they repeat they repeat. Then we hear what they think will be the result of the "evil video games" in the lyrics a very soft and whiney as fuck section that all metalheads should despise. "no more going out to play, friends are gone, been put away, i cannot sleep, can no longer feel, i have no emotion, don't know what is real." What the fuck! If you know those anti-drug commercials with people smoking marijuana and then just shooting themselves in the head (which is obviously way over-the-top) then you'll know exactly how pathetic this idea is. The song has a slight sectiona round 2:20ish that I thought sounded ok, due to it being an alright solo and alright riffs, but then I realized something. these are the exact same fucking riffs they used in Drive. Pathetic.
Next we have Invite It, with a random phone intro, followed by some chugging and then some actual decent riffing. When the vocals come in the riffs get better, and are actually decent (notice ive been using that word a lot, being as though this album pretty much only reaches that point) If you're paying attention to the lyrics as I tried not to but, unfortunatly heard....well...let me quote them once again, after the first stupid section in comes "Your MIND is set to overload with doomsday information, i see you've come here just in time to join the celebration!" Oh no anything but, doomsday information!!..? What is this trash, oh and rhyming information with celebration does not make you a good lyricist. Then comes the worst chorus of the entire album to which i can not describe. It sounds so fucking ...immature. However, then comes in a -good!- section with catchy leads and Paddens clean singing. It sounds like it wouldn't be out of place in some kind of traditional/power metal song, but Padden still sounds weak and many will consider this section still to suck, but its just a break from what they always do. Then another weak attempt to be heavy is followed by a pretty damn good solo but, still. This song is faster and sounds more like thrash than some of the other tracks, with some decent leads and a couple of good solos in it, which is probably where the praise is coming from. However, this isn't thrash, and Waters claimed it would be, so pathetic yet again.
Next is Like Father, Like Gun, which starts out decent, and stays so for a little. Its another boring slow-track with Padden sounding slightly less (but, still) like a pussy. The chorus sounds really unoriginal, and just repeats the song title. It is followed by a very short yet (again) decent solo. Slightly after 2 minutes Padden hits some of his best notes of the album (don't even try to imagine this part as thrash, but still) and then they repeat another short verse and the chorus. Oh yeah and the lyrics here suck too and id end there, but I tend to agree with the idea of providing examples. "HATE INTIMIDATE FEAR - A violent education" HATE INTIMIDATE FEAR - A hopeless generation " I guess they really love spreading brainless conservative propanda to children. Is it just me, or does this suck? No, it definitely sucks.
Then there is Pride which (unsuprisingly) starts like shit, then has stupid talking with a nerdy sounding "no yeah no yeah" bullshit. Then the riffs kick in and they are actually pretty good. Then a fast solo comes in. The lyrics immediately start and in a hilarious manner (in a pathetic way though) with "The adrenaline that you get from the pain that you inflict, does it make you the man, Does it make you the shit?" Do I really need to explain why those lyrics suck? Would explaining it "make me the shit"? Seriously, this band needs to grow up, or retire....or both! Wouldn't that be awesome? Yes. The chorus is "I don't want you, I don't need you. Wasting all my time I don't want you, I don't need you. Messing with my pride! " and I swear that when he says "Wasting all my time" and "Messing with my pride" he sounds almost as poppy as any of those whiney pop-punk/emo bands. Disgusting! Following that is probably the second best section of the album. With really fast riffs coming it and increasing in speed as they go in a pretty kickass manner. Then after that comes in a part with decent riffs and Dave Padden sounding like a combination of old james hetfield (who I don't even like as a vocalist), with any pop singer. So basically it still sucks, but at least it has a slight decency to it. The rest of the song contains nothing new from the first part really.
Too Far Gone starts off like shit (sounding like nu-mud). Wait, WHAT?!?! An Annihilator song starting off like shit? Stunning! Alright yeah, this song sucks. The riffs drop the total shit production tone and sound (almost) thrash and have interesting leads throughout it. The vocals aren't good, but probably the least-pussy sounding on the album. This is probably the most-thrash sounding song of the album, and contains a damn-near-awesome solo. The lyrics clearly still suck. Some of the parts sound slightly more agressive or "badass" but, are still quite childish. Not to mention "The pressure's building, I can't take the load, The more you push me, the more I explode" Those lyrics reminds me of a linkin park song, but also..using the words "load" and "explode" for a rhyme sounds like some bullshit that 13 year olds would be able to make jokes about for an entire year. The lyrics themselves are equally as childish as those kids.
Clare sounds like an alternative rock song, with only slightly heavier than alternative rock riffs at first. Then at 2:17 an interesting section comes in with a very good solo (the only thing consistantly good on the album) and an awkward set of vocals that don't sound like Dave Padden. This is extremely far from thrash and doesn't sound like it and when it picks up a bit its just more stupid groove..and.....wait a second at 3:21 MORE RECYCLED RIFFS THROWN IN. Just when it sounds like they have different ideas, they throw in riffs they already used. However, the chuggish-sound groove riff pattern (conbined with the recycled riffs) works well with solo. Then it randomly goes back into alternative rock, and the vocals are quite poppy in this section. The last minute is clearly the BEST part of the album, and its just the closing end of the song. All it is, is the other instruments fading out with Waters shredding and while its obviously out of place, the solo is great! Then it fades out in almost a helicopter-sounding style.
Here we have (thank god) the last song of the album, and its fucking wretched. The song immediately starts out like shit with total bitching. It sounds like almost an attempt to combine Opeth styled riffs with (and emo version of) Pig Destroyer type vocals (DO NOT mistake what i am saying, both are botched (done completely wrong) and neither really sound like either of those bands, but any intelligent person will know what i mean). The lyrics in the song are impossible to describe on the level of suckitude. The poppy chorus "There's Something Witchy about you, What it is, I can't explain, Maybe it's your blackened eyes, Or maybe you're insane " clearly fails. If you need me to explain why these lyrics suck, you fail just as badly. However, this is NOT the worst lyrical part of the song. The section "I've had enough, I'm heading for the door! You're so abusive! You make me miserable! Throwing things and now it's getting critical!" is the WORST LYRICAL SECTION EVER to be put in a song, by a band, that ANYONE, has ever called thrash (that pretty much even includes the shitty numetal bands that posers call thrash). Whining about someone being "SO ABUSIVE" in a fucking song is not what metals about. He doesn't say it as a reference to action, he yells it in a screamo way to imply how truly it brings out his angst. The next minute or two is just Waters doing leads and going into an ok (but not great) solo followed by the poppy chorus again. Then the album ends with some stupid childish bullshit (a great summary of the album)
Overall, this album gets worse every time you listen to it. This is NOT a (great thrash comeback). Yes, some of the songs are listenable and catchy and times, with Waters throwing in some great leadwork throughout the album, but that doesn't mean the album has much substance to it. I honestly can't understand why people consider this to be the "second coming of thrash" but, then again..people actually like bands like Korn (and Annihilator are better than Korn) so I suppose its understandable. I listen to each song as I was reviewing it, and even repeated the parts I was talking about several times. In doing this, I heard the true repetitive and weak nature of the riffs, bringing the rating down as I was listening to it (though it was never above 50). I feel that a 25 is generous in this case, because even some of the parts that seem thrash, really are just groove posing to be thrash. If the riffs are thrash, they're not good, and if they were good, they'd overall be too slow to make a proper thrash album. The lyrics to this album as I said, are absolutely pathetic. I know thrash lyrics don't have to be perfectly thought out, but id definitely take "I'll spit in your face, for no apparent reason" over this preachy bullshit any day. Why have bands like Exhorder split up, when bands like Annihilator still fucking exist? I guess we'll never know. This sucks, get over it.
Lets face it, Annihilator hasn't really done much of anything much worth of mention sense Never, Neverland. Sure, King of the Kill and Carnival Diablos had a few cool tracks here and there, and I didn't think All For You was a complete failure (though many others did). Still, when Jeff Waters announced that he was "returning to his thrash metal roots," no one could really take him seriously. Boy were we wrong.
Schizo Deluxe sounds like what would happen if you took a blender and threw in "Alice in Hell," "Never, Neverland," and "All For You." It retains the modern feel that the more thrashy songs off their previous effort had ("Rage Absolute," "Demon Dance") and combines it with their classic sound for something truly amazing.
Schizo Deluxe starts out with "Maximum Satan," a midpased song with a rather nice chorus. I'm afraid many will download this track from their website and be scared away from this album as it's not a very good song compared to the rest. Right after this, we blast off with "Drive," a great song that reminds me of "King of the Kill."
After this we have "Warbird," which sounds a lot like "Maximum Satan." Once your done with this, rest easy, the worst is over. The rest is pure ass kicking.
Tracks four and five are "Plasma Zombies" and "Invite It" respectively. Both are no holding back thrash metal masterpieces. "Plasma Zombies" is an ingenious song written about children being exposed to violence in video games (I'm serious). "Invite It" is very likely the best on the album. It is impossible to listen to this one with nearly ripping your head off headbanging.
After this we have "Like Father, Like Gun," another slow song. This one is pretty good with some catchy lyrics (HATE hate INTIMIDATE). It's followed up by "Pride," which is comparable to "Invite It" in speed and incredibleness, also featuring one of the most classic moments of any Annihilator at about 0:30.
The last three tracks ("Too Far Gone," "Clare," and "Something Witchy) all continue the greatness and leave you with the undeniable knowledge that Annihilator is back and they aren't compromising anything to kick your ass. This my very well be one of the best albums of the year. Any thrash fan owes it to themselves to check out Annihilator's new release.
Schizo's are never alone.