Review Summary: For their third studio release, Annihilator revamps their sound, with little thrash to be found here.
Hailing from Ottawa Canada, Annihilator formed in 1984 under the leadership of guitarist Jeff Waters. The band has been around for nearly thirty years, and has made some impressive records in their time. Leaning more towards thrash metal with a technical edge, specifically in their earlier recordings, the band was instrumental in bringing speed/thrash metal to the masses throughout the late 80's and early 90's. The band is even Canada's top selling metal band of all time, which is a rather impressive accomplishment. By 1993 however, the band was already showing signs of fatigue and a lack of progress. Various drug and alcohol related issues plagued a few of the band members and inner band strife was ever prevalent, forcing Jeff Waters to get clean and kick drugs and alcohol. With a renewed sense of creativity and ambition, some band members were let go or fired and work began on a new album.
Considering that this is the same band that brought us "Never, Neverland" and "Alice in Hell", this album may seem a bit out of character for Annihilator. The album focuses more on accessible ballads and slower songs that the band's previous works, and the technical thrash that made the band stand out before is gone, and is replaced with a more broad heavy metal sound redundant of 80's power metal to some degree. Although this a radical change in sound, the band still sounds musically efficient and the material is unmistakably filled with the guitar parts that remind us that this is in fact the Annihilator we have come to know and love. The album still retains the aggressive feel of previous efforts though, and this time the band sounds more lively and confident. Despite this, some tracks just seem downright out of place and do not mold well with the rest of the material, with groove oriented tracks, ballads, thrash tracks, and traditional metal styles all mixed in together making for a confusing listen at times. The band also sounds more comfortable on the slower paced songs, with the fast paced songs sounding forced and unmotivated. The first half of the record is very strong, but by the end of the album the record starts to sound very bland and forgettable, so the tracks do not particularly transition well with each other. The last three tracks in particular detract from the album as a whole.
The one thing that always jumps out at the listener when hearing an Annihilator album, is the intricate and clever guitar work courtesy of Jeff Waters. While he shows some occasional signs of brilliance throughout the record, "Set the Would on Fire" is more focused on the band as a whole, with the vocals and bass taking a more serious role than in past efforts. The bass can be heard quite clearly throughout the albums, but shines on "Knight Jumps Queen" the most, with a really cool sounding bass-line leading into the song, and driving it along. The drums are also without error and do their job, keeping up the pace and complimenting the guitars and bass. The vocals on the other hand can be rough at times. The singer seems capable and efficient, but for whatever reason the vocals have an occasional hiss or lisp to them due to the mic used when recording the vocals. This is a small but occasionally annoying issue that detracts from the album to some degree. Despite this, the band remains very talented and the music reflects this very well throughout the album.
While this album is a definite step back when compared to previous work, a change in sound is not necessarily an awful thing. Some songs worked very well, and some failed to grab my attention. However the band played their instruments well and sounded comfortable and confident, which makes for a relatively enjoyable listen. This album does not come highly recommended by me, but it is still a decent piece of work from a usually consistent band.
- Set the World on Fire
- Bats in the Belfry
- Knight Jumps Queen
- Sounds Good to Me
Aaron Randal - vocals
Jeff Waters - guitar
Neil Goldberg - guitar
Wayne Darley - bass
Mike Mangini - drums
Produced by: Jeff Waters
Engineered by: Max Norman, Bill Buckingham, Steve Royea, Paul Blake
Mixed by: Paul Blake, Randy Staub
Mastered by: Eddy Screyer
Released: August 24, 1993
Label: Roadrunner/Epic Records