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Carnival Diablos
December 2000
Released: 2001, Metal-Is
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

One of Canada's longest lasting bands, Annihilator, are back approximately a year later with a new CD and a new singer. Their last CD, Criteria For A Black Widow, was the first to reunite the band with vocalist Randy Rampage who was with the band for their legendary album Alice In Hell. Unfortunately, that reunion was short lived and ill-fated. Maybe it's for the best, because now Annihilator has Joe Comeau (ex-Overkill guitar) on lead vocals!! Joe's vocal style is more varied than Randy's. The last time I heard Joe sing was on the Liege Lord CD's and for those who've heard that, his vocal style is not the same as it was back then. In fact, he has improved quite a bit. He can sing the heavy parts with as much aggression as Randy and he can do the melodic singing.

Musically Carnival Diablos is a mixed album. There are songs on here that are as heavy as anything that they've done and then there are hard rock songs that have a big AC/DC influence. It's only personal taste, but I prefer the heavier thrash songs of Annihilator. The CD opens on a high point with "Denied" which has lots of choppy sounding, thrashy riffing. Second on the CD is "The Perfect Virus." The first half of this song is unexciting, but then it slams in and becomes something entirely different. Track three, "Battered", now that's more like it!! This is a pure thrash attack. Killer riffing! Apparently this song is nod to Metallica's "Battery." Well I don't hear much of it in here. This sounds like a classic Annihilator thrasher to me. The album's title track, "Carnival Diablos", begins with Joe doing some clean singing (or is that Jeff Waters doing the clean parts?). This sounds more like hard rock. It's an OK song, but it's kinda strange that they picked one of the weaker tracks for the title track. I know Jeff Waters is a big AC/DC fan, they've covered them live on many occasions. However, I never expected them to write a song that sounded just like an AC/DC song. "Shallow Grave" is TOTAL AC/DC. The "yeaahhh" that kicks the song off sounds like Brian Johnson. The riff is like AC/DC as well. That means this is very simple, hard rock, and repetitive. It's a good song, but not what I usually listen to and not what I expect (and want) from Annihilator. The solo in this song is also a nod to Angus Young as it has a part in it that was borrowed right from the song "Dirty Deeds." Simple riffing also starts off the track "Time Bomb" accompanied by a spoken part that sounds like something from Iron Savior. When the vocals come in it's like "Who in the fuck am I hearing?" Then you think a little more and you then realize that it sounds like a cross between Rob Halford and Guss Chambers from Grip Inc. The phrasing sounds like Priest, but the intonation is all Grip. Once the chorus comes in Joe sounds JUST LIKE HALFORD! WOW!?!?! It's not just an influence on this part, it sounds like he tried it. It's still a great song though. I don't want to rant on about EVERY song on here so I'll skip over some of the some of the "filler" songs. The next song on here that grabbed my attention was "Epic of War." At the 2:50 mark Joe finally sings in his "higher" melodic voice. This is more like the style he used in Liege Lord. He should of used this voicing in more places on the album! The last listed track is "Hunter Killer" which starts out slow and builds....and builds. This is THE GEM of the CD for a thrash maniac for sure. I love the faster choppy thrashing rhythms in this one. Randy Rampage would of fit nicely on this song but don't worry, Joe is doing just fine! After "Hunter Killer" is a hidden/unlisted track. Not since "Kraf Dinner" has Annihilator done something like this, so consider this the sequel to that song. It begins with chickens clucking (if that's not funny enough to begin with). The song title is (I think) "Chicken and Corn" - hahaha...that's all I gotta say.

The bottom line with Carnival Diablos is that this is not quite as overall godly like Criteria For A Black Widow was. This album is more diverse, Joe is technically a better singer, so it's not him holding anything back. The songs on here are more diversified. I'd rather hear Annihilator thrashing more...not 50/50 but more like 80/20 in favor of the thrashing heavier songs.

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