• Some of the best thrash metal in recent memory - A review of Annihilator's ''Feast''

    Annihilator - Feast (2013)

    Annihilator's ''Feast'' is one of the most diversified, energizing and technically appealing thrash metal releases in recent memory. In addition to an addicting record without any fillers, this special edition comes along with a generous re-recording of fifteen classics that are on the same level as the original tunes and a DVD featuring the band's entire performance at the renowned Wacken Open Air 2013 plus two more video clips. This excellent package is completed by a new cover artwork that should please fans of horror and gore cinema. I've never been a fan of the band in the past even after trying out several classic tunes and seeing them in concert after their most recent line-up change, but this package has made me a true fan and has become my soundtrack of the Canadian spring over the past few weeks.

    The main record offers a vivid mixture of pitiless thrash metal in the key of the opener ''Deadlock'', more rock 'n roll inspired tunes such as the dynamic ''Wrapped'' which was co-written and features a guest performance by Canadian hard rock columnist, guitarist and singer Danko Jones and a few more progressive tracks with many shifts and changes such as the epic album closer ''One Falls, Two Rise'' that offers both gripping riffs and hoarse vocals as well as uplifting melodies and cleaner vocal efforts. The album also includes an acceptable mellower ballad in form of ''Perfect Angel Eyes'' that works well as a slow and stripped-down change in style in the context of the album despite its cheesy lyrics. 

    Despite this enormous diversity, two other tracks really stand out for me. First of all, there is ''No Surrender'' that features funk rock driven guitar licks, a quite dominating bass guitar play and a highly rhythmical drum play that meet a modern and stomping chorus somewhere between traditional thrash metal and sinister groove metal. This unusual genre combination works extremely well because of its tight and structured execution and even includes dystopian progressive thrash metal guitar sounds and a few psychedelic sounds in the middle section. Even though the lyrics against drug abuse are nothing new for the band, this song really hits the nail on the head since the lyrics that evoke nightmarish descriptions and yet deliver a clear message fit with the twisted musicianship between meandering psychedelic sounds and focused brutal parts. In times where a carefree majority in this country seems to be supportive of legalizing drugs by playing down its dangerous impacts while exaggeratedly and unfairly stigmatizing regular cigarette smokers in publicity campaigns, it's both important and refreshing to hear about this kind of experience and get a logical message from time to time. This song is clearly my favorite on the album.

    The second track that stands out is the dynamic up-tempo track ''Demon Code'' that experiments with uplifting traditional heavy metal guitar leads in the middle section while the rest of the song is much angrier and features an oppressing chorus that will haunt you for a long time. Decently employed atmospheric sound effects in the coda, slightly uneasy guitar effects in the few slower parts and a fast bass guitar line add to the gloomy atmosphere of this song. This track brings the visual concept and title of ''Feast'' to the point in an outstanding manner.

    In the end, any thrash metal fan should get his hands on this extraordinary package that offers more than three hours of high-quality entertainment. This underestimated album convinces with its high degree of entertaining diversity without any shifts in focus or quality since the band always manages to sound exactly like itself and nothing else. This is mostly due to a truly inspired and technically impressive guitar and bass guitar play by band leader Jeff Waters, Dave Padden's most diversified and skilled vocal performance of his career and a vivid breath of fresh air brought to you by new and young drummer Mike Harshaw. This package is definitely a perfect introduction to this legendary Canadian band, a beautiful special edition for collectors and fans of long date and an intense swansong for singer Dave Padden who left the band after this album.

    Final rating: 9,5/10

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