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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.