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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...