Friday, January 26, 2024

Annihilator - For the Demented (2017)

For the Demented is easily the better of the 2017 Annihilator releases, a studio album that, like Suicide Society before it, tries to modernize and expand the bands sound while holding on to a lot of the thrash roots. Granted, I don't think you'll find anything terrible new across its 48 minutes and 10 tracks, but Jeff Waters continues to push his mixing and production capabilities, and is also joined by some of his collaborators like Rich Hinks and Aaron Homma who contribute quite a bit to the overall sound. It's not exactly in the top tier of the Canadians' now extensive catalogue, nor is it anywhere near scraping the bottom, an effort that at least holds up through a few listens if not something I'm grabbing immediately when I want my fix of the band.

There's a mature vibe coursing through this one, whether it's the nastier melodic thrashers like the opener "Twisted Lobotomy" or Waters continuing to push his sensitive time with the dreary ballad "Pieces of You", which thankfully is nowhere near as mainstream or cheesy as some like "The One" that he's put out in the past. Where in the past, modern Annihilator would go the Metallica route for a lot of the vocals and even some of the riffs (sometimes annoyingly so), the vocals on For the Demented have more of nasally vibe to them that reminds me of Dave and Megadeth. There's a little filtering on them in tunes like "Phantom Asylum" which almost seem like something that might have appeared on a record like Endgame or Countdown to Extinction, though the riffing doesn't often align with Mustaine's riffing, and there are a lot more risks like the clean guitars and more dramatic, atmospheric rock moments throughout.

Where on past efforts I actually complained that such diversions took away from the more appropriate thrashing force of the songs, I think here they actually work in its favor, and offer up most of the more interesting moments, because the faster pieces here are competent but not terribly catchy. For instance, "The Way" has more of a Megadeth-meets-hard-rock vibe to it, but it's a fun tune. Or the atmosphere of the instrumental "Dark", which took me by surprise as a little intro piece. I like how the vocals are produced in general, and though I believe they are using a drum machine, it's set just right in the mix to emulate a genuine kit. Just enough hear to keep the band seeming relevant and fresh to itself, if it is carrying some rather obvious influences. Speaking of which, I know I've read that there were numerous opportunities for Jeff to play with Dave Mustaine and I wish that had happened. Is it too late?

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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