Archive for Annihilator

Paul’s Top Ten Live Performances of 2018

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 13th January 2019 by Paul Macmillan

As these end of year lists tend to go, a lot of those based on releases are quite similar. So, to side-step that, this one is going to be quite the personal account of various live experiences. Some may have been shared with tens of thousands. Others with barely one hundred. The one conjoining feature of each and every one is that they are embossed upon my own memory as something far beyond the average. So, without further ado,  and in no strict order, here’s my top ten list of live performances from 2018.

1 – Virus at Smashed Fest, Perth, SCO

While this was an amazing show to be part of, for many reasons, one of the things which will stay vibrant and real in the memory is the performance of headliners Virus. Headed by self-proclaimed “geriatric thrasher” Coke Finlay, this was the first of a big set of shows celebrating the 30th anniversary of their Force Recon album. At around an hour and a half, it was a pretty demanding gig, but they laid down the riffs and showed the young uns how it’s done!

2 – Arroganz at The Viper Room, Vienna, AT

While on a run to Vienna, we decided to take a chance on a local show. I had no idea who any of the bands were before buying tickets, but a quick advance scan of online videos quickly showed it was a full black metal event. While every band churned out a quality performance, it was Arroganz who really clinched it. Bringing their own sludgy death-groove riffs to a hard-hitting BM tradition, to sent me home with a big grin and a big handful of merch.

3 – Krysthla at Hordes Of Belial, Dundee, SCO

This Northamptonshire based tech-death outfit have got to be among the top five of British extreme metal bands at present. The never fail to blitz the audience at every show, from toilet gigs to big fests. Their first time at Hordes Of Belial saw them take on main support on stage one, and I have to say, they just blasted the place in half, leaving the Dundee crowd completely and utterly shell-shocked. The level of intensity delivered was simply unhinged.

4 – Power Trip at Bloodstock Open Air, ENG

Somehow, I hadn’t properly heard Power Trip before this show. A friend camping with us let me listen to a snippet or two, but the sound didn’t really let me know what I was in for. From start to finish their mid-afternoon onslaught was irresistible, and saw me inexorably drawn into the pit for a band with which I was previously unfamiliar. I didn’t remember having “my shit” with me when they kicked off, but I had sure as hell lost it by the time they were done.

5 – Vuur at The O2 ABC, Glasgow, SCO

Having been a fan of vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen’s previous band, The Gathering, for many years, I’d put my expectations on hold for this one. I was surprised to see the evening’s activities were to take place in a small-ish, cosy room of the (sadly now destroyed) venue. This only elevated the special charm of what turned out to be a beautifully intimate show, featuring emotional favourites, acoustic renditions, and sparkling new numbers.

6 – Annihilator at QMU, Glasgow SCO

It’s always great to see Testament, but I think I speak for everyone who was in attendance at this event, when I say Annihilator were truly the kings of the kill. Tighter than Scrooge McDuck’s bum, they smashed out hit after hit, Jeff Waters commanding the crowd with a maniacal grin. There was no huge stage spectacle. No special occasion. No tricks and traps. Just a phenomenal performance, at a great gig, from a band who nailed every aspect of being them.

7 – Watain at Wacken Open Air, DE

Have you seen Watain live? I’d only ever seen videos before. Witnessing their 2018 show live (twice, actually) was really something else. So much atmosphere. And so much fire! It’s no wonder they are gathering a mass fan-base with increasing pace, as being there could make you feel like you’re part of something bigger. Something empowering. Something dark. Looking close, one could even see rituals being muttered between lyrics. If the heat didn’t melt your eyeballs first.

8 – Suicidal Tendencies at Bloodstock Open Air, ENG

The odds were stacked against this legendary band making BOA, from the sound of things, mainly in the form of  various ‘transport issues’. When they finally arrived, their set shifted from the RJD stage to the smaller Sophie tent, they rolled straight into high-energy mode. Seemingly powered up by the trials of the day, they went on to make their show all about the audience, getting a kid involved in the drumming, and one wheelchair bound crowdsurfer pushed up and down the stage by Mike Muir. Simply lovely and legendary.

9 – Heilung at Wacken Open Air, DE

“Ethereal” is probably the one and only single word which could begin to describe this experience. Taking to the medieval themed Wackinger outdoor stage, in the middle of the night, Heilung swamped the intoxicated masses. I didn’t manage to catch them on their subsequent tour, but it’s really hard to imagine indoor venues matching the character of this performance being cast out into the dark of Germany’s witching hour. It was simply one of those moments in time which I don’t believe it will be entirely possible to replicate. You were either there or you weren’t. I would love to watch them again, but I suspect I would be chasing the elusive “first hit”.

10 – Slayer at SSE Hydro, Glasgow, SCO

Well, at the start of this article, I did say these events were in no particular order, but you know what they say about rules. The live metal crown of this year absolutely has to go to original thrash titans, Slayer. Aside from hosting one of the best under-cards for a long time, the atmosphere when the headliners took to the stage – seemingly for the last time in Scotland – was insane. This was not only down to them playing at their best. Credit is also due to the production crew, because they transformed that venue into another world. One last time, we were taken into Slayer territory, deeper than we had ever dared before. It was one Hell of a farewell.

2018 – It was a real live one…

Arroganz. Photo Paul Macmillan/Slow Dragon Music

Paul Macmillan

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Vader, Annihilator and Testament live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal with tags , , , on 22nd March 2018 by izaforestspirit

Vader, Annihilator, Testament

Pakkahuone, Tampere, Finland

21st March 2018

It’s very rare that I go to a concert where I’m actually more interested in the opening act than the actual headliner. American thrashers Testament were the headlining act but for me it was all about Vader. I’ve been a fan of their music since my early teens and the last time I saw them live was at Hellfest in France back in 2009.

Vader were on first and they put on a hell of a show. They are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their debut ‘The Ultimate Incantation’ so their set included some songs from that album along with some new stuff such as ‘Send Me Back to Hell’ from the latest record. The venue wasn’t quite full yet at this point since they were the opening act but there was more than enough people to get a mosh-pit going. I really enjoyed it. Sadly their show was rather short, only half an hour. I would have loved to hear more. 5/5

I’ve never seen Annihilator live before but I recognized a few of their hit tracks including ‘Welcome to Your Death’, ‘Alison Hell’ and ‘Phantasmagoria’. This time the audience was much larger as was the mosh-pit. It was a highly entertaining show. Annihilator play exactly the kind of thrash metal that I like and I’m now tempted to check out some of their music. 4/5

Then the main headliners Testament took to the stage. Their music can be best summed up as optimized thrash metal, big riffs, complex harmonies and good vocals. I am just not too familiar with their music and didn’t recognize any of the songs so I didn’t really enjoy the show as much as the others. That guitar solo midway through their set was impressive though. Good stuff. 4/5

In summary, it was a really good night of thrash metal. Well mostly thrash metal that is, I tend to class Vader as more of a death metal/death thrash metal act these days. I loved Vader, they were the number one show for me, Annihilator were really good. As for Testament, they have a massive following and they put on a good show but I’m not that much into their music. 4/5

Iza Raittila

 

Annihilator w/ support – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 13th October 2015 by Pieni

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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www.facebook.com/archernation

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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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www.facebook.com/HarlottOfficial

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

Vagos Open Air 2014 – 2nd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 21st August 2014 by Pieni

Opeth, Annihilator, Behemoth, The Haunted, Angelus Apatrida, Requiem Laus
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
9th August 2014

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Author António Parada wrote a thriller full of heavy metal connotations called “A Guardiã” (the guardian), so he thought Vagos Open Air was suitable for a presentation. I confess I totally forgot about it, so I didn’t arrive to Quinta do Ega in time of watching it. I doubt there will be an English version of it anyway, but if it happens, I’ll let you know.

Despite the 1-day tickets for Saturday being sold out and their much longer career – 16 years longer, to be exact –, Requiem Laus didn’t have a crowd as big as Gates Of Hell had had the previous day. Singer Miguel said this was their return to the stages, after two years and a half (personally, I hadn’t seen them in 7), so maybe that’s why their sound seemed so alien to the majority of the crowd. Plus they’re somewhat… introvert. Good musicians, with great death-blackish songs such as “Reflection Of God” or “Impulse”, which they performed there, but they enjoy the music on their own, not reaching out to the crowd much. So sadly they didn’t get an effusive response to their gig. (3/5)

Requiem Laus official Facebook

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Angelus Apatrida, on the other hand, unleashed hell – kicking off with “Violent Dawn”, violent is the right word to describe the circles. The Spanish thrash metal act has a solid fan base here, but even if they didn’t, the moshers would have quickly surrendered. Guitarist David G. Álvarez suffered a motorcycle accident back in March and his right leg is still on a cast. But even sitting down on a chair, he moved his upper body like there was no tomorrow. Those guys know how to be on stage and a broken leg doesn’t change that.
Among the short occasions Guillermo Izquierdo addressed the crowd – they had little time to play, so he didn’t want to waste it with talking – he mentioned they were once again recording at Switchtense’s studio (Ultrasound Studios). That meant a lot to the people, not only because it implied a new album, but also because it’s a Portuguese studio. (5/5)

Angelus Apatrida official Facebook

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Not sure when The Haunted had played here last, but it’d been quite a while. To say the crowd was eager for this gig is an understatement. And while you can never read Jonas Björler’s expression, Marco Aro’s was one of true happiness throughout the whole show, so I guess at least he was just as elated as the people watching them. Hell, he was so enthusiastic that he hit the mic against his forehead a few times until it bled, and didn’t attend to the wound until he was off stage! Anyway, whatever the others were feeling, they put everything they’ve got into the performance and all expectations were met. From “99” to “Hate Song”, going through “Undead”, “No Compromise” and the new “Eye Of The Storm” (by the way, the new album “Exit Wounds” is out in just a few days – 25th August) the “mosh ‘em all” motto in the back of Aro’s t-shirt was fulfilled. (5/5)

The Haunted official Facebook

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But in my humble opinion, it was Behemoth who put up the greatest show – even in daylight! They were also missing their cobra microphone stands and some other paraphernalia, just the cloaks and make-up. And the horned masks they wear during the final prayer of “O Father O Satan O Sun!”. Meaning the excellence of their show was due to their music – hand-picked songs from the last six albums – and attitude on stage: Seth’s “hairbanging”, Orion’s mean faces, Inferno’s sharp beats and, of course, Nergal’s leadership. I don’t think he spoke a word to the audience, but the weight of his stare on us and how he yelled at us to yell back had more communication than a speech. Simply amazing the power Behemoth holds on stage. (5/5)

Behemoth official Facebook

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In their own old-school way, Annihilator were top as well. They released a new album last year, titled “Feast”, so they played a few songs in order to promote it – “Smear Campaign”, which opened the show, “No Way Out” and “Deadlock”. Then, apart from the funny country-metal song “Chicken & Corn” (a hidden track featured in “Carnival Diablos”, from 2001), every other track was +20 years old. What a trip to the past, from where I personally highlight “King Of The Kill”, “Set The World On Fire” and – you guessed! – “Alison Hell”. Thrash metal at its best!
There was one thing I couldn’t stop noticing. When Jeff Waters was introducing the band, he mentioned Oscar Rangel’s Mexican nationality right before he introduce Dave Padden. Or at least that’s what I understood; Padden got it otherwise and said quickly, somewhat annoyed “I’m not Mexican”. I guess I’d be annoyed too if I thought that, after working with someone for 12 years, he still didn’t get my roots right. Still I think Padden could’ve had a different reaction, maybe make a joke out of it, as there were a few awkward seconds between the two guitarists. But nothing significant enough to ruin the 5 stars the gig deserves. (5/5)

Annihilator official Facebook

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Now Opeth… I’ll start with something Mikael Åkerfeldt said at some point, regarding a song I honestly can’t remember the name, but he said that “if it sounds like a fuck-up, it isn’t. It’s just us being progressive”. And this is more or less what I think of prog. Nope, it’s definitely not my cup of tea. I recognize the high quality of some of the bands/artists, but I just can’t like it. So me, and many others like me, wouldn’t have enjoyed the show (apart from Åkerfeldt’s jokes, that is). The thing is that even among the die-hard Opeth fans there are mixed feelings about the Vagos show. Some complained about the “soft” setlist, others about the somewhat shallow performance… and then there are those who were simply enthralled from the moment “The Devil’s Orchard” started to the one where “Blackwater Park” stopped. They have played VOA two years ago, and I’ve also seen them at the 9th (and last) anniversary show of the original Hard Club, and this was the weakest of those three. But like I said, prog isn’t my thing, so I could be wrong… I still laughed when he said they came from Stockholm, where other great metal bands came from, like Entombed, Dismember, Bathory… and ABBA. That the next song was actually “Super Trouper” (it was “Heir Apparent”). Or when he said it smelled like dead cat in his armpit. Or when he told a girl she could lower the “teddy-crocodile” as he didn’t know that song (it was a dinosaur plushie with a sign asking for “Coil”). Still there was something missing in his attitude – even I noticed that. Was it a bad concert? No, I can’t say that. But Opeth can do better. (4/5)

Opeth official Facebook

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Text & photos: Renata “Pieni” Lino

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PAGES OF THE PAST: Annihilator – Alice In Hell

Posted in Pages of the Past with tags , , , , , , , on 29th October 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Who would’ve thought Canada could produce one of the best thrash bands on the planet. Annihilator is the brain-child of Jeff Waters, and the band are recognised the world over for two albums in particular, Alice in Hell and Never, Neverland.

Alice in Hell is one of the most technical thrash albums of its generation, with dynamic guitar work, intense drumming, groovy bass-lines and banshee like vocals. While the original release of the album featured the nine tracks listed, the 1998 re-release featured three bonus tracks, two of which were demos of songs from this album, and the other being a demo of a song to be heard on Never, Neverland. But that is a tale for another time, let us now visit Alice in Hell.

The opening instrumental, Crystal Ann, is a classical guitarist’s nightmare of intricate passages. Its twin guitar harmony performed by Waters has given many players chills at its technical prowess. It has also opened every Annihilator show since the album’s release. As soon as that intro hits, the hairs on the back of your neck will stand to attention, and salute the metal you are about to graciously receive within the confines of this 38 minutes of thrash metal mastery from Mr Waters and company.

From an amazing classical intro, to the second track, opening with the chilling bass intro, Alison Hell takes you on a musical journey through the torn mind the character of Alison. The guitars weave a tapestry of torment with their harmonies and relentless rhythmic chug. Vocalist Randy Rampage adds a menace to the song with his dark lyrical content, and Water’s piercing shriek and proto-death-grunt of Alison Hell make the title track an aural assault.

Welcome to Your Death takes the technical approach, and reins it in slightly. This is by no means a detriment to the song, it is in fact quite refreshing. The addition of the clean passage allows the listener a short break from pounding rhythms. The harmony part that Waters leads over sounds much more technical than it actually is, and leads into a good old fashioned thrash attack. For these reasons, fans have considered it an anthem, and it has been featured heavily in the set-list for many years.

The same can be said of Wicked Mystic which takes a more straightforward approach to thrash. Rampage’s vocals are the perfect ally for the guitar work. The un-ending battering of this song shows great stamina from all the players, and shows what thrash metal should be made of.

Burns like a Buzzsaw Blade is the real dark horse track on the album, lyrically it sounds like it shouldn’t work, but fits perfectly within the albums track-list. Water’s goes for an all out divebomb attack for his lead, like the whammy bar is going out of fashion, but still sounds good to this day. To cap it all off, the end of the song is heralded by Rampage emulating a Buzzsaw with his scream. I bet his voice burned like a Buzzsaw blade after that one, ey?

The misleading intro to Word Salad is quite dark for a clean passage. It works at distracting you while the main chug theme sneaks up on you to deliver an injection of distortion. The riffs are intricate, and have been a big influence on a lot of guitar player’s song writing styles. Yet another example of a straightforward thrash tune that would fit in with any set-list that comes out of Jeff Water’s brain.

They say that Schizos (Are Never Alone), and to an extent this is true. Is it? Yes it is, now can I please get on with the song review? Oh sorry, yes, please continue. Thank you, now where was I? This song is brutally fast and relentless in its barrage of speed metal riffs. Most thrash bands have fast songs, or fast sections to songs, but these riffs break boundaries between speed and all out thrash. As the song weaves in two parts, it is in its own way schizophrenic, with its slow parts being almost doom-like compared to its faster, more aggressive side.

Ligeia is one of the other darker horse songs on the album, with constant tempo and feeling changes, featuring nods to AC/DC in the riff ideas. The insane fast solo is a brilliant example of Jeff Waters as a young guitarist with a mis-spent childhood, which just proves that practice makes perfect, or very fast guitar solos. You thought I was being rude didn’t you?

In total contrast Human Insecticide shows more thrash potential. Though the riffs are meaty, the speed is the defining factor of how to make a thrash metal album sound completely awesome. The middle section takes a tempo dive and adds a total groove section, with yet another divebomb fest, that returns us to the true thrash speed. As an album closer, it leaves you satisfied, yet wanting tonnes more material.

There are few bands that can write material that stands the test of time as well as this album. The material is ageless, and still manages to scare even the most hardcore guitarists into wanting to improve their abilities, or just give it up altogether, and they would be right in doing so. This is an outstanding piece of thrash history.

4/5

Dan Eastwood