Released: 2017, Silver Lining Music
Much like Overkill, Annihilator just keeps going, Waters and company releasing albums at a prolific rate. FOR THE DEMENTED is unbelievably the band’s 16th full-length. I fondly recall hearing the debut at the end of my senior year in high school, a little less than a year after it had been released. Time flies. When you have a career that stretches as far back as Waters, not every album is a triumph, as REMAINS and METAL firmly attest. Still, the band comes back always technical, ambitious, riffing like few can. Despite the technical thrash heaviness of the band, they still manage to remain accessible in a genre that is often harsh and inaccessible.
The pacing on this album is decent, with the first three tunes providing the type of technical and steely riffs for which Waters is known. Of the three, “One To Kill” is the highlight. At just the right moment, Waters offers a semi-ballad in “Pieces Of You”, an intelligent and typically unconventional ballad. There is a subset of metal fans that feel ballads are an anathema that should not exist. However, when done correctly and without sappiness, or an overarching goal towards “radio play” they serve a purpose. Annihilator is one of the best at the style.
Following a general Annihilator album rule, not every song is a triumph. “The Demon You Know” is your basic pedestrian Waters tune, not bad but not great. Fortunately, it is followed by the much better “Phantom Asylum” featuring precision riffing, starts, stops, and even a surf guitar melody line. This is the kind of experimentation you expect from Waters, and against all odds it works! Solos, you ask? Oh yeah, with the previously mentioned tune providing some of the best of Water’s signature and varied style. Album closer “Not All There” puts a nice vintage Annihilator bow on top of the wrapped package with key, tempo and style changes showing the progressive leanings of the band.
Main gripe would be that Waters is not really a great singer, and in the hands of a better vocalist these songs would certainly shine brighter. The mix fits the music and style, and fans will be glad to know that this is one of the more aggressive releases out of the band’s last five albums. It is worth stating that FOR THE DEMENTED is no great departure and some would even call it “expected”. I think there is no mystery in stating that Waters’ best music is behind him, but FOR THE DEMENTED proves he still has valid and enjoyable music to offer. Now, about those vocals…