Review Summary: A variety of tempos, a huge upward hike in the quality of the guitar solos and overall more memorability means that Annihilator's second studio album even tops the mighty Alice In Hell
Annihilator are a name legendary within the thrash metal community. As the highest selling Canadian metal band, it would be fair to say that they have achieved a large amount across their long and fruitful career, having put out two absolute pillars within thrash metal in their first two albums. The band are renowned for the high level of technical proficiency across each instrument as well as their complex and catchy riffs and jumps between fast and slower sections in the blink of an eye. It was this formula that made such songs as Alison Hell from their debut album Alice In Hell so good, which would continue onto the follow-up.
Never, Neverland is the second studio release from Annihilator and was released in 1990 to high levels of critical praise, with certain critics even seeing it as being a step up from their fantastic debut. The title track, Road To Ruin and The Fun Palace are regarded by many as being some of the best tracks the band has ever put out, featuring some memorable vocal lines and spectacular riffing. The bass playing on these tracks is flawless, whilst the drumming is the stuff of legend, with some really groovy lines such as on Road To Ruin. The sheer cohesiveness of this entire release is almost untouchable, and what is even more amazing is that the band's vocal work not only fits in with the other instruments but actually adds to it. Coburn Pharr has a rather awesome slightly high pitched shout and sneer that he uses for many songs, occasionally leaping between even higher shrieks and some lower notes to make for the complete vocal performance.
The Fun Palace kicks this album off in spectacular fashion with some of the best flowing guitar work in thrash metal history. The first riff jumps between the top E, the A and the D string on a guitar very smoothly to provide for a varied but interesting riff. This song is also noteworthy for its monumental guitar solo, something that sets this song and this album in general apart from so many thrash bands out there. Whilst people such as Kirk Hammett just shred as fast as they can and abuse the wah pedal, Jeff Waters scatters various techniques throughout and lays down some beautiful melodies in his solos. This can be found on various songs, but is most present in the first track. Another thing that has been vastly improved on these songs is the choruses, which were occasionally irritating on their debut but have taken a massive upward hike on Never, Neverland. Sixes And Sevens shows this off to great effect with a chorus that you will roar along to and stamp your feet in the most defiant way possible upon hearing a few times.
The true icing on the cake for Never, Neverland is its crystal clean but aggressive production job. The guitars have more bite than a pissed off Rottweiler, whilst the drums pound away incessantly without ever completely overbearing the mix. The bass is consistently audible, and the vocals are well placed right at the center of the production. This is one of the best jobs in thrash metal and really is the last nail in the coffin for almost every other thrash album attempting to compete with this. If you are a metal fan and you have not heard Never, Neverland, kindly do yourself a favor and listen to this as it is a masterpiece of thrash metal that anyone can enjoy.