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After the debacle that was Criteria for a Black Widow and the second departure of Rampage as Annihilator's vocalist, Waters found himself in a precarious position. The recruitment of Overkill veteran Joe Comeau on vocals was a good starting point, but 2001's Carnival Diablos failed to inspire fully from a compositional standpoint. Comeau managed to stick around long enough to head another Annihilator record, bringing us Waking the Fury a year later.
Despite all of the failed experiments and the revolving-door of vocalists throughout the '90s, Annihilator proves on Waking the Fury that they can at the very least write a solid, heavy collection of songs if pressured. No more humor-infused romps like "Brian Dance", no more overlong patience testers like "Hunter Killer"; everything is compact and lethality exudes from the band's determined approach. This becomes immediately apparent during the opener "Ultra-Motion", which detonates out of the gates courtesy of Waters' electrified picking hand and descending note clusters. Waters produced this album, lending a synthetic, artificial sheen to the guitars that remains one of the album's most memorable attributes. The guitar tone's awful reputation almost proceeds the music itself, akin to Overkill's W.F.O. and it's vehement bass tone.
The guitars' buzzing distortion reminds me of the soundtrack to the PC game Unreal Tournament once set next to some of the more measured leadwork, like during the mid-paced stomper "Fire Power". While it lends a subtle essence of brutality to some of the groovier riffing passages, it devolves into a murky cacophony when the speed picks up. It is so digital and overdriven that if you listen to Waking the Fury with a good pair of headphones, it begins to make you dizzy and disoriented. Thankfully, Waters' typically enterprising leadwork features a more classic, flat tone. As per most Annihilator albums, you never know when a screaming solo section is going to fly out of left field, most evident during the exuberant "Cold Blooded". This is a welcome addition to Waking the Fury, because while Comeau is his usual gritty self, he can grow tiring during longer periods. He enunciates some of the words strangely, but the conviction of his delivery is endearing and fairly potent.
As per Comeau's caustic vocals, Waking the Fury doesn't feature any ballads or experimental elements that were more common when Randall was in the band. It's head-down full speed the entire time, which ends up being both the biggest asset and flaw here. "Nothing to Me" tries to be deeper lyrically but the grotesque inclination of the riffs always hogs the spotlight. The obligatory addiction-related track "Ritual" also comes off as a bit forced, even while it features a cool spoken-word section near the end. Even so, none of these songs necessarily overstay their welcome, and manage to make a pretty convincing case for the band's continued existence.
Comeau's departure after Waking the Fury resulted in more duds from Annihilator's camp, proving that the band lives and dies by the quality of their vocalist. I can't say that I enjoy this more than Set the World on Fire due to a lack of variation, but it was definitely a massive step in the right direction (at the time).
They're back! Everyone's favourite band! (snort) Seriously though, I'm surprise Annihilator didn't fold altogether at some point in their career. They seem to get so much hate (I'm not innocent of this), but Waters never gave up, and from that I've really built up a respect for him. As far as I know, he's never released a truly terrible album (although I've heard worse than usual things about 'All For You' and 'Metal'), just never a total classic. I think that's my biggest problem with them. Jeff's obviously turned himself around recently (2010-11), selling out shows after the release of their newest album, 'Annihilator', which is actually really good, and has apparently sold more copies than anything they've done in the past decade.
'Waking the Fury' is actually not as bad I thought it would be. I mean, the biggest mistake here seems to be the album cover... shouldn't the band have been on the back, and those cool, fuzzy cctv screens - symbolically more in keeping with the album's tone - be on the front? It must have put a few people off getting it.
The songs on this album are very, very fast, but sonically much more interesting than the last album, mainly thanks to the new, unusually fuzzy tone of the guitars. The increase in speed and fuzz does the album wonders, and really breathes new life into Annihilator, making them seem less like a tired thrash band, and more like a fresh new side-project. It also means I prefer the singer's vocals this time around, as he seems more comfortable and suitable with the new sound.
The first half of the album is definately the best. Most of the songs have a catchy, easy to remember chorus, and either tend not to totally stink musically ('Torn' is a good example - simplistic industrial metal riffs providing a backdrop for a simple little lead motiff which just works) or just straight up kick ass with no questions asked ('Ultra-Motion', 'My Precious Lunatic Asylum'). Unfortunately the second half, whilst not inherently awful, just isn't as interesting to me. Songs like 'Nothing To Me' and 'Fire Power' just aren't as catchy or impressive as the other songs, whilst 'Cold Blooded' and 'Prime-Time Killing' suffer under the tone of the guitars. 'The Blackest Day' is still pretty cool, and most like the songs of the first half (simple riffs, catchy chorus, longer).
Production is brilliant once again. I was surprised by this - the guitar tone alone would take a tone of work to get to sound right. Had it been too powerful, the album would have been a horrible mess of noise ('Cold Blooded' would have really suffered), but any weaker, and the album might've just been as boring as the last one. But they manage to pull it off.
A few songs tend to outstay their welcome by an extra verse or chorus, but are worth going back and listening to. It seems criminal I should give this album the same rating as I did for 'Alice In Hell', because I feel it's way more consistent. But, at the end of the day, it's not handing my ass back to me like it should. It does, however, make me a little prouder to be an Annihilator fan.
Not that I agree with the metal community’s penchant for bashing the hell out of Dave Padden, but, in my heart of hearts I must admit that Joe Comeau remains the second best Annihilator vocalist ever behind Coburn Pharr.
Following the crushingly dreadful attempted rehashing of the Alice in Hell line-up on Jeff Waters’ career low – Criteria For A Black Widow, Randy Rampage was quickly re-fired and one Joe Comeau was ushered in for Carnival Diabolos.
Joe was a cool guy. He looked cool, sounded cool, you get the picture. Concisely put, he was not the kind of person you normally associate with the Annihilator vocal chair!
Added to that that, Carnival Diabolos had a handful of catchy, well balanced songs. They were technical enough to appease the long-standing Annihilator fans but accessible enough to continue courting that elusive broader fan base that Waters always seems to have his eye on. For the first time in about a decade, Annihilator felt like a real band and prospects for their second album with Comeau looked good.
It was 2002 and metal was starting to become popular again. While many of Annihilator’s peers floundered in wage-slave obscurity or languished in musical-career meltdown, could this finally be the moment where Jeff Waters and co rise up and take their rightful crown? Would the world finally recognise Jeff as one of the greatest rock guitar players of all time?
On listening to Waking the Fury, initial signs said ‘yes’.
Ever the musical weather-vane, for once in his life, Jeff Waters decided to forget following the leader and just do things his way. He turned up the tempo, turned up the distortion and shat out an album of aggressive thrusting rocks songs that maximised his trademark insanely catchy riffing, technical melody sections and lots of solos.
Even the production was a departure – a dry, buzzing vortex of tightly compressed noise that grievously assaulted the listener. But what first sounded like a racket, soon wormed it’s way into your frontal lobes. Within ten minutes, you were banging like a nutter and the overall effect sounded like Iron Maiden being raped by Slipknot while old skool Annihilator looked on… and played with itself!
Something like that anyway.
Opener Ultramotion is so catchy, that as a long standing Annihilator fan, to listen to it, is to break out into a big smile and shoot the horns. Jeff’s admittedly hackneyed lyrics, in the hands of Joe Comeau, somehow manage to sound cool. When he growls ‘…the ultimate machine ever built.’ He could easily be talking about his band. Based on the impact of this album, it would not have been an empty claim. And Ultramotion was a harbinger of things to come: Torn is one of the greatest tunes Annihilator have ever committed to disk – strident, stylish and hellishly catchy. Striker, Ritual and The Blackest Day are also outstanding and the album rips to a close with the modern and utterly ferocious-sounding Cold-Blooded. There is barely a wasted heartbeat and not a single duff song. On paper My Precious Lunatic Asylum looks like it might be the kind of duff moment all we fans dread. On your stereo it is a pulsating, stabbing sex-beast of a song complete with a great breakdown for traded guitar solos in the middle and some insanely fast melody parts.
So there you have it. Just like Never Neverland, it’s a lean, mean fighting machine, just a ten-spot of brilliant rock songs played by brilliant musicians.
Sadly, it was not to last. Jeff, apparently unhappy with being immense, fired Comeau and guitarist Curran Murphy and then blatted straight into the uneven Dave Padden era. Comeau later expressed in an interview his disappointment at being ousted from Annihilator. It seems he believed there was better to come. I believed it too.
While Annihilator never truly split up, they were certainly one of several bands that enjoyed a great comeback when the new millennium came about. "Criteria For A Black Widow" and "Carnival Diablos" may not be hailed as thrash classics by most (for whatever reasons) but they are both strong releases that I think measure up to the band's first and most defining efforts quite nicely. Unfortunately, the best installment in this trilogy was the end to the era for it was the first to feature Shatter Messiah/Nevermore guitarist Curran Murphy and the last to feature Primal Fear drummer Randy Black, bassist Russell Bergquist, and Liege Lord vocalist Joe Comeau.
The defining characteristic that seems to stick in most people's minds when they remember this album is its signature production. I personally barely noticed when I first listened to it but I can see why this dry, often "buzzing" effect annoys so many listeners. It does have a habit of making the guitar playing sound somewhat choppy and may overwhelm a few of the album's catchier moments. Fortunately, the uneasy feelings aren't too challenging to get over and sometimes manage to give the album's sound a unique edge.
Musically, this album is probably the band's heaviest and most thrash-centric to date. Just about every kind of thrash is represented including some Slayer influenced speed runs ("Ultra-Motion," "Cold Blooded"), more melodic battering rams ("Torn," "Ritual," "The Blackest Day"), and a few more ambitious tracks ("My Previous Lunatic Asylum," "Striker") thrown into the mix. Of course, there are plenty of experimental moments left over from "Carnival Diablos." Some dissonant grooves appear on "Prime-Time Killing," "Fire Power" brings about a great mid-tempo march, and "Nothing To Me" is another outlet for the band's AC/DC influence that was first seen on "Shallow Grave."
The lyrics are also decently written and bring about some good variety not really seen since "Never, Neverland." Each song seems to have its own subject and Comeau's excellent delivery continues to prevent even the cheesiest lines from sounding bad. On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be much depth here and a few tough guy-isms are spread in small amounts through the record. Jeff, I admire your talents but no one will take a line like "intimidation is my reputation" seriously after listening to something like "Chicken and Corn." Just saying...
All in all, it's a damn shame that this album is so overlooked for it may be one of the band's best efforts to date. Comeau and the other departing bandmates leave on a pretty high note that I'd probably put just below "Never, Neverland" and as one of the best thrash albums to come out in the 2000's. Of course, that's probably why so many listeners are so bitter towards the ongoing Padden era...
1) Probably the heaviest Annihilator album to date
2) Excellent band performance
3) Good lyrical variety
1) The infamous production...
2) A few shallow lines here and there
3) A few controversial experiments
My Current Favorites:
"Ultra-Motion," "Torn," "My Previous Lunatic Asylum," "Nothing To Me," and "Fire Power"
Waking The Fury is the second, and unfortunately last Annihilator studio album with vocalist Joe Comeau. The first offering, 2001's Carnival Diablos was better than any of the Annihilator albums of the '90's where Jeff Waters was singing, and Comeau proved to be an excellent frontman. I was impressed by that album and even more impressed by this one.
Waking The Fury takes a different direction in terms of sound. Carnival Diablos had more variety, which was great, but this record is faster and more aggressive. It could possibly be one of Annihilator's fastest records overall, maybe THE fastest.
There is yet another line-up change here. Randy Black returns to the drum kit, replacing original drummer Ray Hartmann, and Curran Murphy replaces Dave Scott Davis on rhythm guitar. However, bassist Russ Bergquist remains. Naturally, Jeff Waters is the primary song-writer, but Comeau, like in Carnival Diablos, also contributes some lyrics here too.
When first listening to Waking The Fury, you'll probably notice the 'fuzzy' guitar tone throughout. It may put you off...it certainly put me off to start with but after a few listens, it soon grew on me. Even so, a sharper tone with a bit more 'crunch' would've been better. This is however, one of few flaws that the album actually has, and if the weird tone doesn't bother you, or it actually grabs you, the album is a lot more enjoyable to listen to.
Every song on here is packed with pure technical speed that you'd expect to come from Waters. 'Ultra-Motion' is a blistering opener with some fantastic drumming. 'Torn' is a bit slower, but is still heavy and probably the catchiest number on here. Waters provides some memorable backing vocals and Comeau sings some great lyrics. 'My Precious Lunatic Asylum' is probably my favourite track from the album- it speeds things up again immensely with some rapid riffs and solos, and a great drum intro. 'Striker' has a superb chorus and riffs, and like many old-school Annihilator tunes, a big tempo change break in the middle and some great drum rolls.
'Ritual' is a more mid-tempo, like 'Torn' (though still a bit faster). To me, this is track is a little weaker, but is still strong overall. 'Prime-Time Killing' is one of the heaviest tracks on here with some insane riffs. 'The Blackest Day' has some cool lyrics and choruses and 'Nothing To Me' is more melodic, a nice break from the rest of the sounds of Waking The Fury. 'Fire Power' is quite similar to much of the rest of the album, and has a small section that reminds of 'Refresh The Demon'. 'Cold Blooded', the album closer is yet another fast and furious number, and ends the record brilliantly.
Waking The Fury, in my opinion, surpasses Carnival Diablos, but only just. Joe Comeau does give a slightly better performance on his first effort, but is still an extremely impressive singer on this album too. It's a shame that these were the only 2 studio efforts he sang on (I doubt he will return in the future). This and Carnival Diablos are easily the best Annihilator studio albums so fair during the 2000's, and all else that Waters has followed with so far since, just isn't up to the standards of these 2 albums.
Apart from the 'fuzzed up' guitar tone, it's quite hard to fault Waking The Fury. It's a superb speed metal album and you even get 2 bonus tracks: a radio edit of 'Nothing To Me' and a live version of 'Shallow Grave'. This just adds to it's greatness. As well as this album though, Carnival Diablos is also definitely worth listening to.
Of all the albums that Annihilator has put out since their debut, this is the only one that successfully navigates the ice berg filled ocean that is Jeff Waters’ creative well. There are no ballads or sideshow attractions to speak of, and very little genre bending going on. You could potentially argue that since this came out around the peak of the power/speed metal revival that took place in Europe that this had some commercial motivations, which could also be argued about bringing in Jon Comeau on both this album and the last, but the quality of this speaks for itself. The jury is in and the verdict is that there will be a constant barrage of speed metal with a few occasional thrash interludes for a sentence of roughly 50 minutes, no appeals, and no possibility of parole.
Some might point to 90s Judas Priest work with Ripper Owens such as “Jugulator”, but honestly this sounds closer to what Iron Savior and Primal Fear were doing at this time. It differentiates itself from them quite a lot in the heavily techno-like production, although the actual riff work mostly follows the same simplistic approach. The guitar sound on the rhythm tracks is sort of a hyper-fuzz drenched, modernized version of “Screaming For Vengeance”. Funnily enough it actually reminds me a little of the guitar sound employed on Darkthrone’s “A Blaze In The Northern Sky”, although the rest of the arrangement doesn’t sound nearly as distant and reverb steeped. If you’re not used to this kind of guitar sound, have a large attachment to the Metallica-like distortion used on most of Annihilator’s non-experimental albums and if you haven’t even heard any pre-1985 heavy metal, this might not agree with your ears very well.
The pacing of this entire cybernetic monster can be summed up by saying the title of the opening thrash killer “Ultra-Motion”. When you couple the extremely fuzzy distortion with Waters’ extremely fast picking hand, the opening riff of this song is a complete blur, although the pick attack is sharp enough to pierce through the hazy guitar tone. The song then succeeds to fly back and forth between “Painkiller” sounding speed metal and “Eternal Nightmare” oriented thrash riffing. Although this thing doesn’t quite throw out as many riffs as your typical Bay Area band circa 1987, a lot of it comes really close to invoking the same wicked feel. The lead work is utterly sick, trading in and out different ideas that parallel both K.K. Downing and David Shankle. Put it all together with a really powerful and slightly gravely vocal delivery out of maestro Jon Comeau and you’ve got an instant winner.
Given a radically aggressive first impression like this, you’d expect an extremely fuzzy power/thrash album from start to finish, but given the general ebb and flow of things during 2002, this is not how things turn out. “Cold Blooded” is the only song on here that really thrashes out with a vengeance in both the riff department and in the vocal assault, and mostly sounds like an industrially produced Anthrax song with a harsher sounding singer and about twice as many guitar acrobatics. “My Precious Lunatic Asylum” has some isolated thrash elements in the riffing here and there, some of which sound a little similar to “The Years Of Decay”, but mostly it sounds closer to a “Painkiller” style song with the rapid paced, detached vocals that are geared towards the thrash style.
The bulk of what’s left on here is definitely influenced greatly by the late 90s, early 2000s German speed metal scene, most of which was heavily Judas Priest influenced. “Torn” and “Ritual” are both right out of that classic mid tempo, signature heavy and minimalist riffing play book that Accept pioneered and Iron Savior has carried on to this very day. To keep the flow of things going, the latter gallops a bit and both songs has a constant stream of double bass work. “The Blackest Day” is a little bit similar but gets a little deeper into mechanical sounding territory with the vocal tracking, while “Prime Time Killing” gets real heavy on the guitar effects and almost sounds like a full hybrid of industrial sounding groove and speed metal. “Fire Power” leaves the technological matrix a little and brings some melodic flavoring to the mix, definitely sounds like something that could have been on Primal Fear’s “Nuclear Fire” if it had a more conventional guitar sound.
The two songs on here that actually stand out the most are the ones leave the stylistic trappings of the current trend in speed metal circa 2002 and go back a little further. In my opinion, the best song on here is the catchy as hell traditional sounding speed metal number “Striker”. Parts of this are a dead ringer for Priest’s “Ram It Down”, while at other parts I swear Waters was listening to Accept’s “T.V. Wars” when he wrote this. A little more than half way through the song they drop everything and go into this little drum solo which sort of disrupts the flow a little, but doesn’t destroy the continuity of this song. The other song “Nothing To Me” brings back the AC/DC emulation that appeared on the last album, but actually marries it to the Annihilator style and puts in this epic sounding intro that sounds like something off of “Never, Neverland”. The single version of this song omits the intro, but honestly, it’s much better with it in there so don’t bother with the 2nd bonus track if your version has it because it’s nothing more than an outtake from “Highway To Hell” with a really fuzzy guitar sound.
When I first heard this album it didn’t agree heavily with my ears due to the very unusual production, but this is basically the second best Annihilator album after the debut. It’s definitely the most consistent and coherent album that this band has ever put out and it’s the best thing that Comeau has done since his brief thought legendary stint with Liege Lord. If you like Iron Savior, Primal Fear or Paragon then this will likely be up your alley. It is a good idea to give this album a couple of listens in order to properly sink in, as most speed metal albums don’t have a production quite like this, but believe me it is worth the effort.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on October 21, 2008.
Sure, Annihilator's first two albums are hailed as masterpieces (especially Alice in Hell) and while I have to agree to some extent, my favourite Annihilator album is "Waking the Fury".
Many people have problems with the guitar tone presented on this album. I can see why, since the distortion is very strange, especially when you know how Jeff usually produces his albums. It took me a while to get over it, but now I realize that it actually fits the album perfectly. I don't think the rhythm sounds "thin" - it sounds more like Jeff played the guitars with a rather cheap Death Metal guitarpad. It just sounds very raw and somewhat digital.
"Waking the Fury" kicks off with the very good "Ultra Motion". The track is fast as hell and features some awesome lead guitars and soloing. Another good thing on the album is the addition of singer Joe Comeau (Ex-Overkill). He really got the balls and the attitude to carry this album. Sometimes, he sounds like a mix of Lemmy Kilminster and Rob Halford (especially in the verses of "Torn") which fits very well to the heavy-as-fuck riffs.
There are no ballads here, the album rarely slows down below mid-tempo. Another strong point on "Waking the Fury" is the kind of riffs Jeff Waters unleashes; I don't think there is a single riff rehashed from earlier albums (a problem he often had with the releases prior to this one). All of them sound unique and great.
Drumming duties were taken over by Randy Black (Primal Fear) and he's really good at his job. The drumming work is stellar and perfectly put into the mix.
In conclusion, "Waking the Fury" manages to incorporate oldschool Thrash with modern influences and an almost-industrial like guitar tone, great vocals, top-notch songwriting and the best soloing in the entire Annihilator catalogue (I'm not exaggerating here!)
"Prime Time Killing" is often loathed by Annihilator fans (and I can hear why) but it's not as bad as most of them say. Sure, it has a Pantera-like groove and doesn't sound quite like the rest of the album (neither does Nothing to Me, but that's another story) but it still features some rather good riff work.
Highlights are the catchy solo-fest "Torn", the oldschool "Striker", the groove-monster "The Blackest Day" and the heavy-as-hell "Fire Power".
If you're a fan of oldschool and/or modern Thrash, give "Waking the Fury" a chance, you might enjoy it as much as I do.
Well... not really. It's just that this album seems like a real blitzfest from beginning to end, without a single bit of the mood-ring bullshittery that has spread the stench of the suckage vortex over previous albums... nothing like "Never Never Land" (title track) or any of the all-out stomachache mallcorisms from previous albums.
That said, this sure as fuck ain't Painkiller. It's more Jugulator than anything else, with the same techno-ish guitar tone. It's not that BAD, it just sounds a bit too digital for anyone's own good. But the songwriting, while not insanely imaginative, is enjoyable. There's only one kinda Pantera-ish song here, and that is Prime Time Killing... it's not nearly as mallcore as people make it out to be, especially in the context of Annihilator's career.
The rest then goes from AC/DC (Nothing to Me, continuing on the proud tradition started by Shallow Grave) to more recent but still not quite terrible Slayer (a COMPLETE tribute on the song Cold Blooded, though I can't fucking remember which song... it goes "you will feel the misery, master of my enemy"... it's one of the few post-Divine song moments that aren't gay, but I can't be bothered to figure out which album it is) to the frenetic speed/thrash that is the trademark of Annihilator (Ultra Motion), though recently it's been dragged into self-parody. Here it somehow sounds fresh and different, though it's probably because the double-bass is cranked up, the riffage is made simpler, and the guitar tone is such a wackjob that it just doesn't SOUND like Alice in Hell. Also, throw in the fact that there is a LOT of soloing to be found and a lot more speed metal riffage, and yes this is basically Jugulator.
It's not bad, really. The vocals are a real highlight, because this guy sounds a lot like Halford at times, and that is a Good Thing any way you look at it. The songwriting is a bit lame, but not really to the point of being irritating, which puts it a step above other Annihilator releases.
So...Jeff Waters and his team got back to work again...Exited “for nearly a decade” guitarist Dave Davis and “Alice in Hell” original drummer Ray Hartmann and entered Jeff’s well known drummer, Randy Black and a new guy in the Annihilator camp…Ex-Nevermore guitar player Curran Murphy. We all know how Waters is always capable of bringing us some of the most technical and heavy riffs that thrash ever knew…yes you got it…he wrote the whole damn thing again! Normally Jeff’s baby, Annihilator, usually unleashes some heavy quality albums, and that was no exception for “Waking the Fury”. It’s a good album with some variations going from the most heavy thrash going to some heavy metal tunes with some really crunchy riffs…Everything’s almost fine…except for that guitar sound…It seems that Jeff shouldn’t had bought that damn pedal in that cursed day, at that fucking hour. That kind of sound is just too thin…don’t get me wrong… It doesn’t sound bad at all, I just think those songs would be twice the fun if they had that guitar sound from “Alice in Hell” or “Criteria for A Black Widow”. Because of this sound, this record can be a little bit irritating in the first times you listen to it, but it eventually after some time this album starts to get really interesting.
Jeff finally got the perfect vocalist. Joe Comeau has some great vocals and we can see perfectly that he pulls the whole thing out of his throat… Russell Bergquist is the weakest presence in this record…Bass? You’ll even ask yourself sometimes if he really played it on this one…
The songs are good metal tunes. Jeff really hits it hard on songs like “Ultra-Motion”, “Torn”, “My Precious Lunatic Asylum”, “Striker”, “The Blackest Day” or even “Cold Blooded”. The other songs are good, but not as good as these ones, except for “Nothing To Me”, a radio-friendly song that comes in the wave of “Shallow Grave” and just kicks some serious ass…
Well, if we had to choose one band for always being there, keeping the Metal flag up and the flame alive, that’s definitively Annihilator. Hearing this kind of songs today is really great. I’ll just be expecting one more pearl from Waters & Co. in the future, but a little more thicker…I fuckin hope!!!
The stalwarts of canadian thrash metal are back again, just a year after their last release, Carnival Diablos. Annihilator is the guitarist Jeff Waters's band. They started as a normal band but after two thrash albums and one, a bit more commercial metal/rock hybrid something happened and Jeff Waters ended up recording the next album by himself. Randy Black did the drum tracks but Waters did the rest. Their mid-catalogue isn't that appreciated or well known but Annihilator's debut, Alice in Hell, is a classic and essential thrash metal. The follow-up, Never Neverland, is almost as essential and excellent. The line-up has gone through some changes. The long time guitar player Dave Scott Davis (first two and latest two albums) has been replaced by an ex-Nevermore guitarist Curran Murphy. Randy Hartmann also had to leave due to personal problems and an old friend of Waters, Randy Black was brought in as a replacement.
What first drove me off from the album is the guitar sound. The guitars sound quite thin when playing the rhythm. Or so it seemed at first since there is only one guitar playing in the beginning of 'Ultra Motion'. After the second guitar kicks in the guitar sound gets somewhat better but still it sounds rather artificial and not very strong. Fortunately at higher notes (i.e. leads and solos) the guitars sound much better and those higher notes are used quite much since leads are abundant. As an example I could mention the almost two minute long part in 'Lunatic Asylum' where only a simple riff is played and both Waters and Murphy take turns in the lead guitar. Surprisingly it doesn't get boring.
Jeff Waters and Curran Murphy are both good, if not excellent, guitarists and quite different from each other so the large amount of leads doesn't get boring or numbing. There is still more than enough rhythm guitaring. Most of the guitar riffs are repeated to no end and some of them aren't that good to begin with. It gets a bit annyoing to hear that one riff being played for a minute in the beginning and then again a minute near the ending of the song. This happens only in a couple of songs though and the not-so-good riffs are surpassed by the amount of good riffs but not by much. Waters has been smart enough to usually put an interesting lead over any simplistic riff.
Joe Comeau (ex-Overkill and Liege Lord) is a surprisingly good vocalist. His voice is very strong and though his range isn't that impressive, he can reflect various kinds of attitudes and emotions through his voice. Unfortunately that ability isn't used that much on 'Waking the Fury'. Mostly his vocals are of the thrashy yelling type though his melodic vocals are used almost as often. The one dimensionality of the vocals is a consequence of the fact that the tracks are kinda alike with each other. Sure 'Nothing to Me' is more in the AC/DC direction, 'Prime Time Killing' sounds a bit like Pantera and 'Striker' could be from the era of older Annihilator but the fact remains that most of the songs are straightforward aggressive songs. Sure some of the songs are really catchy like 'Striker' and 'Ultra Motion' but there aren't any slower and moodier songs like 'Carnival Diablos' or 'Liquid Oval'. Still the album has it's moments and is worth the money. The aforementioned 'Striker' is one kickass song and the first three songs aren't much behind it.
I enjoy this cd alot at the beginning. The first track, Ultra Motion, is a straight ahead in your face thrasher. Unfortunately I had not heard Carnival Diablos at the time of this review, so I could not compare it to that, but I hear people have called that album a disappointment. This is not a disappointment for me at all, although I thought for a moment at the beginning of track 6 that it might turn out to be one. The sixth song, Prime Time Killing, starts out with a nu-metallish sound which scared the hell out of me, since the album had started out so strong and I wondered why the band would go and fuck up a good thing like that. But the song itself is not so bad, about thirty seconds into it the nu-ness goes away, and only pops up for a few short intervals throughout the song. Still, this is probably the weakest track on the album. The next lowspot is Nothing To Me. It's a catchy song, but too hardrockish for what I want to hear when I put on a thrash cd. At least it's better than Prime Time Killing. Good thing the last song ends with some decent thrashing. The guitars have a fuzzy quality to them, which I don't remember from previous Annihilator albums I've listened to, although I admit it's been awhile since I've listened to one. Overall the album reminds me of a cross between Overkill and what Megadeth was trying to achieve with The World Needs a Hero but failed so miserably at. It contains it's fair amount of thrash throughout but kind of lets off the steam after it hits that nu-metallish song. If it had kept up the speed all the way through I would have given this a four, but as it is it only gets a very strong three.