Jeff Waters is to Annihilator was Dave Mustaine is to Megadeth. The Main Man. The Chief Dude In Charge. The Head Honcho. When the High Exalted Potentate of this mighty Canadian Thrash Legend that is Annihilator chose to utilize “guest appearances” on his new album, aptly titled, Metal, the decision was met with groans & guffaws from all over the Metal Community. “Why does Jeff freakin’ Waters need guest guitarists??” “He’s just trying to jump on a bandwagon!” “He’s run out of his own ideas!”. Blah, blah blah, ad nauseum. The same types of things said about any and all Metal bands by their core fan base whenever the band wants to shake things up a bit. But the bottom line is, it’s Waters’ band and he can do as he damn well pleases. He didn’t “need help”, he “wanted an extra ingredient”. So, with that said, onto the matter at hand.

Metal is Annihilator’s 11th studio release and while there are a couple of twists and turns, the core of the riffing & vocal arrangements are classic Annihilator. “Clown Parade” kicks things off in fine fashion with a tight, straight up Thrash riff and some amazing soloing by Nevermore’s Jeff Loomis. There’s even a “Whoa!” sing-along bridge after the second lead break that would make Iron Maiden proud…very cool! “Downright Dominate” is another strong one loaded down with wicked riffing & soloing. Guest shredder Alexi Laiho (Children Of Bodom) fits quite nicely alongside Waters’ own stellar playing. In Flames’ Jesper Stromblad shows up on “Haunted”, one of the albums more frantic Thrash cuts, and just shreds out!

The album is not without its questionable moments, though. The name-checking of classic Metal bands in the song “Army Of One” is a little cheesy…but, then again, so was “Kraf Dinner”. The opening melody of “Couple Suicide” is a little juvenile and the song is trying too hard to sound like Killswitch Engage. Definitely a departure for Waters here…kudos for trying.

Overall, while not Annihilator’s best release, it’s certainly not the lame duck many fans predicted. If you can’t recognize this music on first listen as having Waters’ hands all over it, you’ve probably never heard the band before. Too many were overly concerned about the guest appearances (from members of Lamb Of God, Trivium, Arch Enemy, & others) harming the album, and they really didn’t. They fit nicely, in all honesty, and are surrounded by patented Annihilator styling. But, I must admit, seeing all the names listed on the sticker made me think I was looking at a rap album. (Can any rappers make an album on their own?) Anyway, don’t let appearances fool you. Metal is just that…a strong, well thought out album. It won’t please everyone, but it doesn’t have to.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shawn Pelata
June 27th, 2007


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