Canadian thrash metal icons, Annihilator, have released their 16th – yep, 16th – studio album. Coming out on the 3rd of November, that album is called For The Demented and it was released via Silver Lining Music and Neverland Music. Not many bands make it to 16 albums, especially not thrash bands, but Annihilator, governed by frontman Jeff Waters are nothing if not persistent.
Having formed in 1984, Annihilator have been through a huge amount of line up changes with only lead guitarist and occasional vocalist, Jeff Waters, still remaining in the band today. To give you an idea of how much they have changed over the years, Wikipedia list seven former vocalists, five former guitarists, nine former bassists and eleven former drummers. Waters returns to main vocals for For The Demented, which may or may not be a good thing.
He hasn’t got the greatest voice in the world. He is by no means a bad singer but he isn’t a stand out one either. His real skill lies in his amazing guitar work. To be fair though, his voice is suited to the song style and structure Annihilator play and he also writes all of the songs so perhaps he is the perfect front man for them. Joining Jeff Waters in the band we also have Aaron Homma on rhythm guitar. Rich Hinks looks after the bass and Fabio Alessandrini is on the drums.
For the Demented is 10 tracks and 48 minutes long and is a bit of a mixed bag. There is some real quality on here. It is far removed from earlier missteps taken by the band on albums like Carnival Diablos or Remains. The band are pulling themselves back from a bit of a slump and the last few albums see them slowly regaining that original Annihilator feel remembered from their debut Alice in Hell or Never, Never Land. That isn’t to say that For the Demented is a brilliant return to form. It isn’t but is another step in the right direction. There are definite missteps on here too. Quite a few actually.
I find the album as a whole to be a little confused, in honesty. Their certainly is not one singular style or genre being utilised. As a band who are one of the “Canadian Big 4” of thrash, you are mentally prepared for a fast, guitar and riff driven thrash album. Even more so after the album opener Twisted Lobotomy (read our review of that single here).
Twisted Lobotomy is fast and aggressive with an old school sounding riff and squealing guitars over blast beat drumming. The guitars sound great and the speed and riff will have necks sighing with relief once it finally ends. One to Kill comes next and sees the tempo relax to a more mid tempo number. There are some decent riffing patterns and drum beats in this one and the chorus is pretty catchy too. There is a nice solo with huge squealing guitars and loads of slides but it doesn’t really have the same impact the opener did.
For the Demented is a good song with a nice ominous, melodic intro that builds before jumping into another rhythmic mid temp number. The lyrics are a bit cheesy with lines like “This is for the demented, you are now represented, highly recommended, it’s good to be demented”. The song overall is cool though and has a bit of a Megadeth feel – Sweating Bullets esque maybe. Pieces of You switches style again going for a haunting ballad style. It is a nice track though treads a line between being dark and enjoyable at times and a bit radio friendly pop rock at others.
The Demon You Know is a decent enough song but lacks something to really make it stand out. Instead it just plods along with a decent riff and slow to mid tempo beat. Phantom Asylum has a slow ringing guitar start before a riff comes in over the top to make an interesting sound. This one picks the tempo up a bit and Waters sounds menacing on vocals. The chorus is catchy, though stretches on. There is a nice chunky riff throughout. There is also an excellent instrumental section with a melodic guitar line in the background. All this builds to a huge and impressive solo. Altering the Altar comes straight afterwards and is possibly the best track on the album.
It has an atmospheric feel to the intro before a guitar slide brings in a fast picked riff and quick drum beat. The guitars on this one are awesome with loads of speed but moments of melody too. The vocals are good and the song captures the old school thrash feel perfectly. Unfortunately is followed by probably the worst song on the album, called The Way.
It doesn’t feel like a thrash song, instead having a more pop punk edge which makes it sound really out of place on the album. It is just a bit of a mess really. You get the same style in parts on album closer Not All There which isn’t great though at least this song has a switch back to a large instrumental section. Melodic guitars play along and build into a half decent solo before it returns to the flat sounding punk styled lyrics and vocals. Sandwiched in between these two dodgy ones, there is a brief instrumental so all in all it is a really poor end to a half decent album.
It probably seems like I am being a bit harsh. Maybe I am. It is a hard album to come to terms with though. There is a huge gulf in quality between songs. A huge difference between the excellence of One to Kill, Twisted Lobotomy and Altering the Altar and the drab The Way and Not All There. Then we have to middle ground of songs like Pieces of You and For the Demented. A good album is probably the fairest judgement. There are some very strong songs and some instantly forgettable ones. As a whole there is enough on the album to make it worth a listen and look like a step in the right direction for the band.
You can pick up a copy now from all the usual retailers and streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify. You can also get this and more from Annihilator at the links below. Check out Annihilator on Facebook, ,Twitter, at their own website and Instagram to keep up with info on them and their music. Be sure to give them a Like or Follow while you are there.
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For The Demented by Annihilator (Silver Lining Music/Neverland Music)
The Final Score - 6/10