Honesty in the music business, frankly this is the first time I hear that there is trustworthiness in business in general, because there is always that dirty little twist hanging around, waiting for one of the sides to slip up. But you know what, after reading ANNIHILATOR’s founder Jeff Waters’ statement about the matter regarding his music, I believed him and since I know his entire discography, as a fan of his creations, I know that he has what it takes to stick to his claim. Furthermore, as always, Waters is relentless in his path, abiding by the rules that his music has been maintaining for almost three decades, and keeping up the pace when it comes to musical diversity, laying Thrash and Heavy Metal with shreds of Rock, Punk, a little edgy, yet emotive, Blues waiting to erupt, kicking his guitaring into gear for a critical mass while not flinching in front of extremity. Other than the extremity part, that is what I have always liked about ANNIHILATOR, craftiness and keeping it smooth, yet not simple. With the arrival of the cadaverous flesh eater, “Feast”, via UDR Music, it is still the same legacy all together, yet without the 6.6 solos average per a song as it occurred on “Annihilator”.
Though not overly rendered with a flow of shred soloing as on the previous, “Feast”, in comparison to the last few albums of ANNIHILATOR, made me look back to the band’s earlier offerings of the early to middle of the 90s even though there are also various of modern, groovy, crushing Death Metal outputs minus the growls, nothing too shabby, yet those were quite entertaining and effective. On several occasions, I found myself fondly remembering “Set The World On Fire”, “King Of The Kill” and “Refresh The Demon”, three of ANNIHILATOR’s greatest Metal gems in my bill at least. I know that when it comes to the Thrash / Heavy rhythm guitar riffing, whether violent and abusive or a little laxer, there is always that undeniable signature of Waters’ dynamism, yet on this one, it was like a kickback. Nonetheless, “Feast” proved itself to be a little bit multifarious in contrast to the older stuff, thus lifting up the music into considerable heights. I noticed how the swings between genres is evident than before, but those shifts came just in the nick of time, as if asked for. I could claim the same about the lead guitar melodies and of course Waters’ own technique of producing those crazy ass soloing procedures, especially the Bluesy hooks. That is dynamics folks, and I am glad to announce that there is plenty of it. In addition, I have to comment about Dave Padden, a young frontman back in his early days with the band, and slowly his performances left me with the notion that he has always been there. Surely I miss Waters’ singing, as from now and then a little raspy crisp is healthy for the soul, yet Padden really lived up to my expectations for an ANNIHILATOR frontman other than Waters.
When I first started listening, and after I thought that I got the picture all figured out, I assumed that it would be hard for me to choose the albums’ premium songs. On the other hand, I was wrong. “Feast” isn’t perfect. Sure that as a fan of the band’s 90s material I was attacked from various of ends all throughout the tracklist. However, I still had somewhat of hard time with “Wrapped” and “Smear Campaign”, two solid tracks with masterful musicianship, yet other than riffing, those didn’t click right. Nevertheless, “One Falls, Two Rise”, one of ANNIHILATOR’s greatest efforts and should proclaimed as a gem, “Perfect Angel Eyes”, a breathtaking elegant ballad, a kind of an upgrade to “King Of The Kill”’s “In The Blood”, which I will surly treasure, “Fight The World”, honing the arts of the true meaning of progression, leaving out the exaggeratedly technical part, and it can be Thrashy, conclusive, heavy and harmonic. “No Surrender”, reprising the story of the drug addict in a considerable serious nuance, begins as if it was a song of FAITH NO MORE, and it will continue as such, yet at times it pretty rapidly becomes chopping, heavy as hell and ultra-violent, the inner demon has awakened from its slumber. In a nutshell, get yourself a copy now, and I will savor additional words.
Ok, I should confess, I’m an ANNIHILATORholic, a die-hard fan and possibly not the best reviewer or the most objective person to write an impartial chronic for this album, but I will try this time again. So let me state a solid dogmatic truth, ANNIHILATOR and Jeff Waters are among my preferred artist ever, and I quote some albums as “Alice In Hell” or “Set The world On Fire” as some of my all-time favorites and I’d even cherished dearly “Never Neverland” as an emblematic example of how the 90s Metal should sound. I can also admit that some of the latest releases weren’t in the same standards of quality, but even in the most lackluster of them, I always found some great elements to enjoy and some cool guitar licks to keep my flame burning. Today, Jeff Waters seems to have found (again) a new deal and a new partnership in UDR Music, and starting everything from scratch, so maybe we can expect something as great as the first album for Music For Nation as “King Of The Kill” or something exceptional, as the delivery to honor the early contract with SPV/Steamhammer and the great “Carnival Diablo”? Well, let’s see this track by track.
The first song “Deadlock”, is a fun speedy track, very much in the same vein as early SLAYER circa “Show No Mercy” and Dave Padden delivers here his most perfect imitation of a young Tom Araya, only the whole solo part is differential with a real full blasting lead work by the Canadian six strings flying V master. “No Way Out” starts with a very dissonant intro with flanger FX and morphs into a Thrashy riff syncopated, both ingredients are quite typical and very appreciated by your truly, the vocal patterns are also very familiar for the followers of the band, embellished and supplemented by a single chorus line , in the style of "Ultra-Motion" meets “Stonewall”, the mid break that divide the song in half is also classic , but very refreshing with a more Modern melodic motif and the solo spot it’s pure Waters in his most rocking moments. The third track is called “Smear Campaign” and it’s time for a cool kill switch trick mixed with an harsh chromatic chopped lick and it’s another example of how ANNIHILATOR has evolved in the new century since “Refresh The Demon”, with a great blend of Traditional Thrash and some more modernized vocals styling.
“No Surrender” with its Funky/Fusion introduction seems a little out of place at first, but the pretty tight surgical Metal riffing is back quickly and Dave Padden delivers a great performance here, and the bridge section is freaky and almost apocalyptic (….”please god help us”) then another fierce solo upon a sharp rhythmic before returning to the Groovy Thrash riffage feast, which I strangely detect in, a few resemblances with FREAK KITCHEN both in the Guitar & the singing style. “Wrapped” this is the AC/DC inspired song and the weakest of the “Feast” album, a simple with some more Punkish vocals that aren’t exactly in my taste, but it’s a tradition in the ANNIHILATOR's career, each album seems to contain more or less this sort of more Alternative / Rock stuff… It still had some nice lead-guitar chops. “Perfect Angel Eyes” is a kind of ballad not epic or powerful just a nice tune and the whole bit, actually recurrent in the contemporary ANNIHILATOR’s albums (initiated with “All For You”), this song possess nevertheless a cool melodic potential even if it will not stand as a major number, once again singer, Dave Padden is showing a great serenity, a nice range and an impressive versatility.
Back to basics with "Demon Code" with a furious tempo and a true mechanical main riff enhanced by a Bay Area-underground gimmick as chorus and a slight influence of EXCITER, plus guess what?: Another fine lead unit with even a MAIDENesque harmonized dual part, a true Headbanging cut made by Headbangers for Headbangers. Now, it’s time for a little gem in the same vein as “Sixes And Sevens” or “Alison Hell” with acoustic intro, an hyper high technical playing level, a complicated structure or perhaps a progressive mood and a tortuous theme with an hyper fast double-kick rhythmic, the sound of “Never Neverland” is definitively a great influence here… the gang choir shouting ”…save my soul…lost control” is jubilant: ”Fight The World” indeed a beautiful title for a crushing track…fight. Starting with an highly chorused clean guitar and a melodic bass line with a very good soft vocal layer , this track “One Falls Two Rise” is a very interesting canvas where Jeff seems to find a new inspiration like VOLBEAT meets AVENGED SEVENFOLD, but suddenly it became another Thrashing monster with an abundance of sharp axe and a great shouting choir , the structure is very weird and the ANNIHILATOR stamp is firmly branded… Along with “Fight The World” & “No Way Out” this is the perfect triumvirate.
The collector item deluxe hard-book version with a 3D cover will also feature a Bonus CD “Best Of Annihilator“ containing Fifteen songs, for a grand total of twenty four tracks in one package: The perfect listening companion to “Feast” for the beginners and a great reminder alarm for those who have forgotten about the mighty Jeff Waters.
The vocalist David James Padden, already proved his talent (2010’s “Annihilator” or “Schizo Deluxe” in 2005) but I think that with this album, he will stand as strong as ex legendary frontmen: Coburn Pharr (ex-OMEN / ex-PRISONER) or Joe Comeau (LIEGE LORD / ex-TAD MOROSE) in the metallic wall of fame or in the Heavy Metal collective. In fact, "Feast" is like the genuine essence of what this band is all about, Strong musical skills mixed with anger, that leads to a pure and unadulterated Metal feast: Maybe the most coherent and impressive album in the ANNIHILATOR modern day era.
1. Deadlock 2. No Way Out 3. Smear Campaign 4. No Surrender 5. Wrapped 6. Perfect Angel Eyes 7. Demon Code 8. Fight the World 9. One Falls, Two Rise
Dave Padden – Vocals / Guitars Jeff Waters – Guitar / Vocals Al Campuzano – Bass Mike Harshaw - Drums