Monday, January 22, 2024

Annihilator - Feast (2013)

Obviously encouraged by the righteous blitzing they provided with their 2010 eponymous full-length, Annihilator decide to follow it up with yet another outbreak of intensity and redemption for decades of middling or miserable output that never quite lived up to the band's initial promise. It's almost like someone told Jeff Waters he only had so much time left on this ball of mud rotating about the sun, and he had to make up for all those missed opportunities in a short span. Now, I'm not going to place Feast quite on the same level as its predecessor, there are a few areas in which this album is a bit more dynamic and different, and others in which the band falls back on a few questionable choices, but as a certain confirmation that we had entered the second 'Silver Age' for this specific band, it reasonably delivers and is possibly worth a listen whether you just like modern thrash in general, or felt let down by most or all of the band's material after Alice in Hell and Never, Neverland.

This one isn't quite as savage or relentless as the last, and you'll find more proggy elements, a little more melody, and even some of the band's groove metal peering through in tracks like "Smear Campaign".  And I won't lie, these are often the album's less interesting moments, but at the very least they are tasteful. "No Surrender" and "Wrapped" have some weird moments where the band imports everything from djent-like rhythms (without djent-tuning), some hard rock pizzazz and classic metal grooves which range from conventional to mildly experimental. "Perfect Angel Eyes" is another attempt at a pure ballad akin to "The One", and really does not belong on this album, but if I'm judging it by its own virtues, it's totally passable AOR radio-friendly pap that might have charted if some glam rock band had released it to the airwaves in 1987. All the tracks after that one, though, bring back the battery that is so missing from the middle part of this album.

Feast would unquestionable work better as a 5-6 track EP than a full-length, because it takes a few sidesteps, but some of those are actually catchy in their own right. They also seem to have stuck with the zombie cover theme and I think this is one of their better artworks outside the first two albums, but it's nice to see the logo return. Production is mint as long as you're cool with modern, polished studio wizardry, but never does it leech away from the harder-hitting, faster moments. I also don't think this is the best selection of Jeff Waters' guitars, the leads don't pop off as well as other albums, but I'm not complaining too much when I can just appreciate the speed and aggression and finesse. I'd also point out that most of my earlier reservations about Padden are dissolved, clearly he and Waters have really come together here and he understands what this band needs to honor its legacy, leaving most of the cheese by the wayside (other than the ballad, of course).

Verdict: Win [7.25/10]

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