• Sympathetic ups and downs for faithful collectors - A review of Annihilator's ''Triple Threat''

    Annihilator - Triple Threat (2017)

    Triple Threat is a package made for faithful fans and with some reserves also for potential new followers. It introduces the current Annihilator line-up that has been around for less than a year. This release exists in different versions but the most complete ones offer three different auditory and visual experiences. This package offers a regular concert recorded at Bang Your Head!!! festival consisting of eleven tracks and a running time around one hour. The second threat comes in form of an acoustic set filmed and recorded at Jeff Waters' home studio close to Ottawa with guest singer Marc Lafrance and guest guitar player Pat Robillard who played ten tracks for a running time slightly below forty-five minutes. As an additional gimmick, there is also a comment section where Jeff Waters discusses each of the ten acoustic tracks for about thirty minutes in total. The last chapter offers a documentary including interviews with former and current band members, friends and musicians as well as fans from all around the world for a running time around one hour.

    Let's take a look at the three different parts of this release. The regular concert is what you can expect from such a festival recording. The cuts are a little bit too fast in my book but the sound is overall massive apart of a section in the final track ''Phantasmagoria'' where the sound is off for a few short seconds on two occasions. It's possible that this is only the case for my copy but since I have read about the same issues concerning the same but also other songs in other reviews, I guess it's a general problem that couldn't be fixed. That definitely rates this section of the release down as it is a lack of attention, professionalism and quality but since it's only a minor problem, it will not reduce the overall quality of an overall strong concert. The new line-up has great chemistry and the four musicians clearly enjoy themselves on stage but still manage to play very professionally and nearly technically perfect. Rich Hinks and Aaron Homma are running around the stage like there's no tomorrow, Fabio Alessandrini nails his performance on the drums and Jeff Waters delivers his own triple threat by entertaining the audience, playing the guitar and singing all songs. The German festival audience is audibly enthusiastic which makes the show even more immersive. The set list focuses on the band's first four and current two records only but is rather satisfying for such a festival appearance. However, those who already have the special edition of Feast including the band's festival appearance at Wacken Open Air three years earlier, don't really need this new recording. Half of the set list is the same, the atmospheres are equally great and the bands delivered the goods on both occasion. A recording of a full regular Annihilator concert with some rare material would have been much more interesting. My final verdict is that this part of the package is very solid but not essential.

    The acoustic set is something Annihilator has never tried out so far in its long career. The band chose ten calmer tracks which consist mostly of ballads or half ballads. While all these songs are great in their own way and performed very well, they also end up sounding quite alike and the set gets a little bit redundant after a while. It would have been interesting to transform a few of the heavier tracks into acoustic cuts to have a more diversified selection. The performances of the bass and guitar players are compelling and guest singer Marc Lafrance, who does lead vocals on all songs, are appeasing and enchanting. On a few occasions, he struggles with some higher notes here and there but his overall performance is surprisingly solid. It's questionable whether this experience needed to be filmed. While the audio version makes sense to me, it's not exactly entertaining to watch five guys sitting on chairs in a basement for forty-five minutes. The additional comment section by Jeff Waters proves two things: Jeff Waters is a sympathetic guy who has been through a lot of interesting things but he also talks way too much. While some of his comments were interesting enough, others were repetitive and could be skipped. In the end, this section delivers outstanding music with boring visuals and an ultimately unnecessary comment section.

    The last part consist of a documentary that is all over the place. We get to hear interview segments with current and former band members, colleagues and partners of old date as well as fans from all around the world. Jeff Waters also answers fan questions in between and takes us on a ride through parts of his home town from downtown Ottawa over Dunrobin to Constance Bay. While Canada's capital region looks gorgeous and this documentary inspired me to go swimming at Constance Bay next summer, I wonder what the point of this documentary is. Jeff Waters probably wanted to put as many different aspects and ideas as possible in a running time of about one hour but the final product is lacking structure and includes both quite interesting parts as well as less compelling sections. Even the quality varies from cheap and shaky webcam sections with fans to very professional interview sections with the three new band members where images and sounds are crystal clear. After all, this documentary section is for very faithful fans only and has many ups and downs. On the other side, its unorthodox approach also has a sympathetic side to it.

    To keep it short, Triple Threat is an above average package with several highlights such as the acoustic songs and the energizing festival performance, some average material in form of the documentary and an unnecessary part with comments on the acoustic songs. Faithful fans should absolutely get their hands on this overall entertaining package. Occasional or new fans should only purchase this release for a low and reasonable price and should otherwise stick to one of the band's numerous compilations included as bonus discs on several regular albums or purchase the excellent Japanese greatest hits release Welcome to Your Death which came out less than three years ago.

     Final rating: 72%

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