Sunday, January 28, 2024

Annihilator - Metal II (2022)

It honestly pains me to criticize a musician like Jeff Waters, who has put in so much work for so long, seems like a genuinely cool dude from any interview I've seen of him, and has such an enormous amount of talent on either side of the recording studio. He plays that guitar like a total motherfucker, especially in this particular niche and he can make himself sound good doing so. But one area I think he's always needed is a bit more of an editor to help him make some decisions. Can you just imagine if Jeff was let loose as the guitar player in some other band, without needing total control over all the creative direction and having to constantly recruit new singers or other musicians? If he could just hone in on what he does so damn well?

Metal II is one of those questionable decisions, a re-recording of an album that I don't think that many people really cared for in the first place, with a little bit of a shifted track list and an attempt to make most of the tracks a lot heavier. To that degree it's a success, but that doesn't make a groove/thrash cut like "Detonation" much better, and even though his vocals are often improvements on some of the originals. It's actually a little dirtier in production than Ballistic, Sadistic or For the Demented, and there are some minor improvements in atmosphere and aggression, and I think these decisions were all decent if the aim was to make the material seem a little less cheesy than it was on the original Metal. But should the effort have been spared here when it might have been better served on a new album? If I'm comparing this side by side with the original, this is clearly the better option, so perhaps the answer to that last question is a resounding yes.

I also liked the cover of Exciter's "Heavy Metal Maniac", which I think was only on the Japanese or some other import of the original album, but sits right here in the middle and sounds great with Jeff's nasty vocals that almost sound like Blackie Lawless fronting Exciter! Which, come to think of it, would be really fucking awesome. Loads of guest players are all over this, leads from luminaries like the late Alexi Laiho, Jeff Loomis, and Lips from Anvil. Dave Lombardo on drums! Vocal spots from Angela Gossow (ex-Arch Enemy) and Stu Block (Into Eternity). He's even got Dan Beehler joining him for the cover of his own band. It's certainly energized and fun, and I'd take it any day over the middling original album, but is it something I'll often want to return to? While filthier and more correctly 'metal' than before, it's just not the catchiest batch of tracks. Waters puts plenty of lipstick on this pig, but I still don't want to make out with it for very long.

Verdict: Indifference [5.5/10] 

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