Annihilator – For the Demented

Though some of their post-millennium releases have been sketchy, Canadian thrash outfit Annihilator have been largely reliable in churning out decent thrash records at a reassuringly reliable clip. For The Demented (Neverland Music/Silver Lining) is the sixteenth album during a thirty-odd year career, and the second album in a row where band founder and guitarist Jeff Waters takes on vocal duty, after Dave Padden’s departure following the release of 2013’s Feast [UDR]. Waters has said he wanted to return to the band’s earlier days, and have a heavier, less hook and chorus-driven sound this time around. By and large, he’s succeeded.

Things open with one of the strongest Annihilator songs in years. The furious pace and energy that oozes out of ‘Twisted Lobotomy’ gives you the brief hope that this could be a stone-cold Thrash classic. Squealing solos, machine gun drumming, and that all-important urge to start a circle pit are all present. And as anyone present at this years’ Bloodstock will tell you, it’s a banger live.

Sadly, however, that’s as good as things get. But there’s more than a few pleasing Thrash numbers scattered about the rest of the album. ‘Phantom Asylum’ and ‘Altering the Altar’ both combine some blistering shredding with a pleasing groove, while closing track ‘Not All There’ combines the speed metal with Water’s penchant for melody nicely.

2015’s Suicide Society (UDR) gave more than a few heavy nods to Megadeth, and For the Demented also features a few hat-tips towards Dave Mustaine & co. ‘One to Kill’ could have easily come off last year’s Dystopia (Tradecraft/Universal), while ‘The Demon You Know’ has the air of ‘Sweating Bullets’ about it.

However, while there’s definitely an aura of classic Annihilator in the energy the band put in, ‘Alice in Hell’ this isn’t. The title track is evidence that Waters can still be guilty of uninspiring lyrics, ‘Pieces of You’ showcases his need for an unnecessary ballad, while ‘The Way’ sounds more like a surf rock cover than a metal song (but still kind of works).

The grand scheme of things, there’s nothing wrong with For the Demented. But for one anyone who has heard more than a couple of thrash (or Annihilator) records, there’s little here that leaves a lasting impression. Another reliably solid, middle of the road record from a reliably solid band.

Expect more of the same in a couple of years.