by Solomon G

Next Stop Annihilation: Annihilator unexpectedly slaps you in the back of the head and says, 'What's up, fool?!?'

For a metal fiend, there is always an embarrassment of riches, and one can easily move from one band to the next, one scene to the next and find an enormous amount of cool bands, albums and concerts to delve into. Though 90% are crap, there are still a seemingly endless amount of killers out there.Annihilatoris most definitely well entrenched within that remaining 10%, and I'm totally stoked to get reacquainted!

For ol' Solomon G, listening to the eponymous latest from Annihilator was like running into an old friend from way back, only to find that they're the same cool mofo as ever. It's funny how friends drift apart, usually for no real reason whatsoever: moving around, changing jobs, going in and out of relationships, et al. It seems for similar reasons I lost contact with the music of this excellent band, albeit on a musical level - but no longer!

If you're familiar at all with Annihilator, you're familiar with technically polished metal riffage and great harmonic structures pretty much designed for insane moshing. Much of this album - unsurprisingly to me - careens headlong into super mega-speed thrash, just to turn around and program an unexpected proto-thrash revival tune over here, and then, just when you think you've got this album figured out ('Ah-ha!', you say. WRONG - have a seat!), we're treated to some strange, primal jungle menace that mutates via zingy processed guitars, which may seem a little incongruous and zany - but that's quite often the Annihilator modus operandi! Just get used to it, because it kicks total ass!

Probably this reviewer's standout album-highlight favorite is the fifth track, titled '25 Seconds', with it's spy/danger music intro - this is noir metal/near-death metal - with amazingly entertaining tempo shifts and tuff karate-expo-concrete-block-head-smash breaks. If that ain't enough for ya, we still got big, ominous danger metal; great, grindy outros; speed blues stompage; clever phrasing; trademark guitar athleticism; uncanny phrases that float above serious trad-metal stomps - and nothing' but Metal! This album slams on relentlessly, and even if fatigue may begin to set in on the listener, this is definitely some of the most clever shit for miles in any direction.

Lyrically speaking, this is an album very invested in themes of misuse and retribution. Whetting the stone with issues pertaining to the co-opting of culture, Annihilator turns into a primer on how to (sonically) back somebody into a corner. Even with a stern-but-fair warning for budding dope-fiends, this album ultimately brings the theme of retribution all the way home. If the UFC knew what was good for them, they'd recruit Annihilator mastermind Jeff Waters to compose their theme music.

(*Bonus track: Van Halen's Romeo Delight - a fairly faithful rendition, maybe with even more testosterone than the original.)

Now that I've reacquainted with my old pal, Annihilator, I'm really looking forward to catching up on what's been going on since Never, Neverland and the Kraft Dinner daze.