Annihilator – “Suicide Society” (UDR Music)
Another Annihilator album, another thrashing barn burner – but whoa, hold up, what’s this – slow songs, mid tempo groovers and some guest vocalists – is this really Canada’s No1 thrashing machine?! Ok, let’s rewind a little for those of you that didn’t hear the news that 12 year veteran Annihilator vocalist Dave Padden resigned last December, suddenly and more crucially on the eve of this 15th album completing its recording. After anguishing about the loss and later the fear of whom to replace Padden, Mr Annihilator (i.e. Jeff Waters) came to the decision that he would not only continue his normal guitar shredding duties, but also take on the vocalling as well – no mean feat considering the last time Waters sang it was 1997! Cue some serious vocal lessons and what we have is probably Annihilator’s most diverse album ever – and I don’t just mean in the vocals!! “Suicide Society” will definitely be a challenge for some, especially for those used to the relentless thrash blitz that the band has put on before, so prepare for a mix of slower, mid tempo songs and equally, some powerful melodies quite uncommon in Annihilator’s previous material. Equally, Waters own voice reflects a diversity of its own, reminiscent of James Hetfield with tinges of Ozzy(!) and traces of his own stylings from the “King Of The Kill” days. If you’re still reading then the final aftershock has to be the huge doses of Megadeth, 80s Metallica and traditional heavy metal that has made it into the nine songs herein. Still, credit to the 49 year old Waters, who has been doing this for over three decades, cos whatever the influences, it all still sounds very much like Annihilator. ‘Creeping Again’ is not only Annihilator but actually going back to the early demo days with its fast chopping thrash and Hetfield style vocals and shout outs while ‘My Revenge’ has “Master Of Puppets” written across it – with Dave Mustaine on vocals – until it breaks into a mellow “Set The World On Fire” piece with Waters fluid guitar blazing a trail all over it! The most off the wall material has to be the Alice In Chains like heavy groover of ‘The One You Serve’ and the dark power ballad (!) of ‘Snap’ where Waters crunching hard rock riffs are boldly driven by his Ozzy style lead vocals along with some upfront backing harmonies. Closing with ‘Every Minute’ that seems to mix Iron Maiden with some cool blues soloing and funky hard rock riffs, this album seems to have it all from thrash to heavy metal. Personally I found this a mightily impressive album that takes a break from Annihilator’s trademark sound through its unexpected diversity that Jeff Waters has excellently mastered in fine style, but that really depends on how open minded you are in receiving “Suicide Society”.