If Ballistic, Sadistic (Silver Lining Music), the new album by Canadian speedsters Annihilator, is anything to go by, then relocating to the UK is probably the best move the band’s mastermind Jeff Waters has made for years. Consistency has been an issue with Annihilator for some time, but since the recruitment of English bassist Rich Hinks, the band have not only rediscovered their classic sound but a new lease of life in the process.
With 2017’s For the Demented ( also Silver Lining Music), Annihilator released arguably their finest release for over ten years, so following it up would be a tricky task indeed. And considering Waters says he hasn’t felt this happy and content in his personal life for years, it’s quite astonishing to hear the level of ferocity driving this latest collection of songs.
‘Armed to the Teeth’ signals the band’s intent from the outset, backed up by overtly hostile ‘The Attitude’ and the rip-roaring ‘Psycho Ward’. ‘I Am Warfare’ comes equipped with machine-gun riffs and a creeping chorus, ‘Out With the Garbage’ is just a relentless fucking thrashbastard, and ‘Dressed Up or Evil’ feels like being run over by a turbocharged steamroller with a touch of schizophrenia.
‘Riot’ is a mid-paced monster with gnashing teeth, a ‘King of the Kill’ style riff and a chorus built for the moshpit, ‘One Wrong Move’ switches nicely between gears, and ‘Lip Service’ sounds like a revamped version of ‘Knight Jumps Queen’ with some added Iron Maiden. ‘The End of the Lie’ finishes the album with another riff born from ‘King of the Kill’ but played at the speed of a panicky hamster on an exercise wheel.
With Waters handling production duties once again (having recently rebuilt his own Watersound studio this side of the pond) Ballistic Sadistic possesses a sharp and crystal clear sound with just the right amount of dirt. A great sounding record with riffs that deliver a serious gut-punch, and has more hooks than the Hellraiser movies.
8 / 10