Annihilator is a Canadian thrash metal band that formed over 20 years ago by guitarist Jeff Waters in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Though the band looks more like a Jeff Waters solo band throughout the years, with its never ending change of members, Annihilator lives on with its latest album, Schizo Deluxe, being released in 2005. Annihilator's debut album, Alice in Hell
, was released on Roadrunner in 1989. Considered to be the one of the band's premier efforts, along with their second album, Never Neverland, which was released in 1990, Alice in Hell is an excellent thrash platter, and one of the best albums of 1989.
So what makes Annihilator's debut so good? You could start with the guitars. Alice in Hell is chock full of technical riffs courtesy of guitarists, Jeff Waters and Anthony Greenham. The first track, Crystal Ann
, is just a minute and a half long acoustic solo to get your feet wet with Annihilator, but it reeks of talent. And this is just the beginning. Throughout each song, the duo of Waters and Greenham pump out heavy riffs and mind-blowing solos. Many of the solos are what you'd expect from a thrash metal band, but Jeff Waters' solos rank up there with the best of them. The instrumental Schizo's Are Never Alone (Pt. 1 and 2)
is another song than shows of Waters' talent both riff-wise and solo-wise, and is one of the album's best songs. The numerous riffs found on the album have that buzzsaw feel to it, and the effect sounds great. There are also many time changes on the album to spice things up, and they accomplish their goal, making for exciting twists. Guitar-wise, there are virtually no disappointments with Alice in Hell, as the band excels in this area.
On Alice in Hell, the guitars take most of the spotlight, but listening carefully you can hear Wayne Darley's bass lines chug along with the guitar. The bass isn't spectacular on Alice in Hell, but Darley does a good job keeping up with Waters and Greenham. The drummer, Ray Hartmann, has an excellent performance on album. He constantly delivers solid beats into the band's formula and they compliment the destructive sounding guitars very well.
Annihilator has seemingly never been a kind band to vocalists. Only on two separate occasions have the group used the same vocalist two albums in a row (not counting Jeff Waters' stint as a vocalist). Despite being dismissed so quickly, the aptly named Randy Rampage does a pretty good job for a thrash metal vocalist on Alice in Hell. His voice has a raw effect to it, yet he manages to shriek out the Waters penned lyrics quite coherently. Rampage's voice is especially effective on Alison Hell
, and Burns Like a Buzzsaw Blade
While Jeff Waters might not write the best lyrics, he writes about some interesting subjects. Many of the songs on Alice in Hell deal with the human mind and insanity (a trend which continues throughout Annihilator's career), including the title track, Wicked Mystic
, Word Salad
, and Human Insecticide
. The song Schizos (Are Never Alone Pt. 1 and 2)
also deal with the human mind, only through intense riffs and chaotic soloing that represents (as the linear notes say) "There are so many people in my mind, all trying to speak at once. How can it be so quiet on the outside when there is such a confused noise in my head?" I'd say the album's best lyrics would be in Alison Hell
. Combined with the eerie riffs and solos, the lyrics of Alison Hell make for a perfect horror story song.
Alice in Hell was the debut album of Canadian thrash metal band, Annihilator. The album is full of technical riffs and solos from guitarist and songwriter Jeff Waters that are sure to please any fan of thrash metal. Alice in Hell features very few dull moments, as each of the songs are very powerful in their own way, and would not look out of place on a record from any of the big four of thrash. Somehow the band did not gain the same popularity as some of the other thrash acts, especially in North America, which is unfortunate, as the band put out some very quality material. Alice in Hell ranks near the top of the band's discography, and is definitely an essential thrash album.
(You couldn't go wrong with any of them, so I'll list my favourites)
Schizos (Are Never Alone Pt. 1 and 2)