Review Summary: A solid compilation that sadly lacks a few key tracks from the band's career and the vocals let it down.
Annihilator are a band held in high regard by the metal community, having spearheaded Canada's foray into the genre by becoming the highest selling metal artist from their country. Such releases as Alice In Hell and Never, Neverland are often considered to be classic thrash metal records, whilst much of the rest of the first half of their career generally receives more praise than criticism. As a result of their success, it should come as no real surprise that more than one compilation of songs from their albums has been released over the years, with The Best Of Annihilator holding the crown as the best known.
Released in 2004, this collection of tracks serves as a lengthy trip back to their first three releases, including the technically accomplished Alice In Hell; the masterclass in thrash metal that was Never, Neverland; and the slightly disappointing but enjoyable Set The World On Fire. Puzzling though the inclusion of choice cuts from only three records may be given their lengthy career by this point, the talent on display here is undeniable. Jeff Waters' searing guitar leads and magnificent riff work coupled with some above average drumming and the occasional bass fill makes many of these numbers the lessons in brilliance that they have become known to be.
Fan favorites Alice In Hell, The Fun Palace and W.T.Y.D. are all present and as awesome as ever, whilst other numbers such as the ridiculously intricate Imperiled Eyes made the cut here and many of the songs chosen represent the Canadian thrashers in their prime. The guitar work is really technical throughout each of these numbers, including the wizardry preceding the solo in the latter of the previously mentioned tracks, whilst it also retains a sense of melody as is showcased in the opening acoustic song Crystal Ann. Meanwhile the drumming maintains a high standard, particularly on the numbers selected from their sophomore release, and the bass fills across the first five songs from Alice In Hell absolutely destroy many of their thrash peers.
Unfortunately, a couple of things let this release down. Despite containing performances from three different vocalists, none of these songs have any particularly memorable vocals. The Fun Palace has some pretty damaging highs, whilst the growls in the chorus of Phantasmagoria will be repeated over and over again, but for the most part Annihilator has always had some rather poor vocal work and this compilation shows exactly why. The other major problem with The Best Of Annihilator is that it is really The Best Of Annihilator's Early Works, and whoever made the baffling choice not to include such tracks as King Of The Hill should really hang their head in shame. This completely misses out some of the best Annihilator songs, and therefore does not live up to its title.
Overall, this is a solid enough compilation but unfortunately is held back by the problems that hindered the tracks originally and a rather odd neglectance of certain tracks. Only pick this as an introduction to the band.