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ANNIHILATOR - Ballistic, Sadistic

Release date January 24/20 (Silver Lining Music)

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This release marks the 17th full length put out by Canadian vets Annihilator since their 1984 inception. At this point (and for many years past), the band is essentially founder Jeff Waters and a few hired guns. Waters wrote all the songs, played guitar and bass, sang, produced, mixed and engineered the album himself.

Despite being a fellow Canuck (and an old one at that), this reviewer has to admit a lack of experience with Annihilator. They are commonly referred to as a thrash band, but, to these ears, this specific release is more a speed metal album, with elements of thrash and traditional metal thrown it. It's at its best when the velocity is fast, and the attitude is abundant. Hence songs such as “The Attitude”, “I am Warfare”, “Out with the Garbage”, “The End of the Lie”, and “Dressed up for Evil” are the highlights.

Waters’ vocals are exactly what metal vocals should be, snarling and barking, without the smoothness of an AM radio love song crooner, and without talent-less cackles or cookie monster affectations. At times his vocal delivery is almost Venom-esque, reminiscent of latter-era Cronos or the Demolition Man.

Overall, this is a very good album, but there are a few issues. On the speed metal songs, Fabio Alessandrini’s drums are over-produced, the bass drums in particular sounding like a drum machine with no human involvement. There is nothing wrong with playing tight, but true extreme metal should be a little messy. Additionally, some of the lyrics are a bit puerile, “Psycho Ward” in particular sounding like a teenager trying to be controversial…in 1978. And “Lip Service” sounds like it is an homage to latter-era Celtic Frost, when it was the early era that was worthy of adoration.

But all in all, this is a fine outing by an old dog who is still showing his fangs.

(7.5)

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