Review Summary: A great assault on the ears fueled by some awesome guitar riffs and one of the best vocal performances in modern thrash
Annihilator are a band that has been on auto-pilot since the release of their widely acclaimed and highly influential sophomore album in the sense that they have scarcely evolved their sound. They remain the force of technical thrash metal with a "thinking man's" approach to the guitar work that they were in the early stages of their career, only with a slightly more commercial bent to their music. Despite this, however, the quality of the band's work has vastly differed even though there has been very little evolution, and both the peaks and troughs of their career is represented on 2013's installment in their story entitled Feast.
This album is very much of a polarizing experience given its vastly differing quality throughout and some perplexing instrumental moments. Whilst the guitar work is as solid and sound as it always has been courtesy of Jeff Waters, it is certainly nothing that will (pardon the pun) set the world on fire. The solos still contain as much melodic but schizophrenic shredding as they always have and have the same bite to them, and the riffs keep shifting tempo throughout but on certain songs, such as the speed-based opener, they just don't have the same energy behind them. The drumming is the laziest yet seen on an Annihilator record and is the real nail in this album's metaphorical coffin. It seldom seems to deviate from either the drummer's laughable attempt at a quicker beat or the dull, uninteresting mid-paced beat. It is sad to see this from the band that put out tracks like Road To Ruin.
Thankfully, the vocals on this release are more than enough to make up for the lack of any highlights in the drumming. Returning from their last outing is David James Padden, who shows he has some great chops on him all the way through this album. He dips between manic high pitched shrieks and great lower vocals to give one of the most interesting vocal performances in Annihilator's history. The bass here also never threatens to sound remotely pedestrian, and the bass lines weave in and out of Jeff's fluctuating guitar tempos perfectly. Also interesting is how the band manages to maintain their enjoyment factor across extended epics such as One Falls Two Rise. This song is eight and a half minutes long and never dips in quality throughout, from the lovely acoustic opening and emotionally charged vocal performance to the thrilling heights it hits during the heavier sections. This song brings back fond memories of the title track from their sophomore release.
Annihilator's latest release is somewhat of a mixed bag, but the majority of it is very much Annihilator doing what they do best - thrashing as hard as any other band can. The brilliant vocal performance mingles with the frantic and highly technical guitar display to make for a thrilling release. One thing that can not be said is that 2013 is devoid of good thrash releases with Voivod's latest effort and Feast from Annihilator standing proudly side by side.