Annihilator w/ support – Porto, Portugal

Annihilator, Harlott, Archer
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
9th October 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists www.primeartists.eu
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“Suicide Society”, Annihilator’s 15th studio album, was released on September 15th 2015. And 15 days later, the Canadian band kicked off the In The Blood European Tour in Birmingham. Maybe 15 is their lucky number.

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This tour hit only one city in Portugal – which happened to be my hometown – so a fair share of people from across the country (and I believe from the north of Spain as well) headed towards Porto that evening. The roadtrip and the fact that it was a working day might explain why the venue was roughly half full when the first band Archer got on stage. Well, their loss – the Santa Cruz, CA, heavy metal band delivered one hell of a show. It was clear that the majority of the audience didn’t know them, but if you’re attending an Annihilator show, it means you like heavy and fast stuff, right? Archer don’t play thrash, but their metal is speedy and thick enough to please the most demanding thrashers. And among songs from both their releases (“Doom$day Profit$” and “Culling The Weak”), they also offered a cover of Megadeth (“Tornado Of Souls” – because they “come from a certain part of California and felt like they should play something related to that”), where singer Dylan Rosenberg sounded exactly like Dave Mustaine did when he recorded the song back in the day.

Bassist Dave Da Silva also addressed the audience, saying that playing in Portugal had a special meaning for him, given his last name (in case you don’t know, Silva is the most common surname around here). So they not only know how to play good metal live, they also know how to bond with the crowd – which are the two goals a band must achieve on stage. Mission accomplished here.

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Harlott were more popular – at least I noticed a handful of metalheads singing along. Their “down-under” accent made some of the words indistinguishable, but when it came down to music, the communication was flawless. Thrashing out since 2006, Harlott brought us some sharp, spirited songs from both their albums “Origin” and “Proliferation”, although they focused naturally on the latter, being their most recent release. There was also a funny song – in terms of lyric content; musically, it was straightforward, serious thrash – called “Hairy Dick” that I can’t find anywhere. So it’s either some unrecorded song, just meant for live shows, or it’s included in a certain “Pain Emblem” EP that was never officially released (thanks for the info, Metal Archives).

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The place had been filling in and it was pretty packed by the time Annihilator got on stage. Not a sold-out venue, but still a number beautiful enough.

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Even though I liked Dave Padden very much, I must confess I’ve never understood why Jeff Waters didn’t remain on the role as a singer. I can imagine it’s more comfortable to just play guitar when on stage, but it did work out those few times in the past. And it clearly still does. The opening track was precisely “King Of The Kill”, the title-track of the first album where Waters sang lead. 21 years later, Waters just nailed it. And closer to the end, after almost one hour and a half, he still had it in him to shout those high-pitched “Alison”, from the “Alison Hell” chorus – even if he begged us to sing it for him.

Now that the vocal part is cleared… well, I don’t think the instrumental part needs any kind of introduction regarding its quality. A few songs from the new album, including the title-track, a few all-time classics, some in-between hits, a drum solo… oh, and those “food songs”, that I personally find annoying but the majority of the crowd thrills with – “Chicken and Corn” and “Kraft Dinner”.

When introducing the band, Waters made sure to tell us where the guys came from – in case the little country flags on the drunkit didn’t give away how important that was for them. So him, drummer Mike Harshaw and guitarist Aaron Homma come from Canada, and then bassist Rich Hinks, who doesn’t come from Canada but from a “little island called United Kingdom”. The look on Hinks’ face when Waters said “little” was priceless. Because metal isn’t all about anger and demons – it can be funny too.

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Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

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