Refresh The Demon
Released: 1996, CMC International
Editors Note. Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards our 10,000th review and the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any website were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
Released in 1996, REFRESH THE DEMON was written mainly from guitarist Jeff Waters’s home studio in Vancouver, and like its predecessor KING OF THE KILL, featured Waters on vocals. Enduring endless lineup changes, Waters did something unexpected. He wrote a simple and direct metal album stripped of progressive and technical leanings. Riff and heft were king, as Waters’s insidious plan to sink these tunes into folk’s brains was to offer concrete, repetitive and easily absorbed grooves in defiance of all trends and what was in vogue at the time. Thus, REFRESH THE DEMON was a solid pillar standing tall against a relentless wave of Nu Metal, Death Metal, and Grunge.
Expectedly, the songs pretty much rule with the opening title track setting the pace for the mid-paced chug and grooves that ensue. However, despite the mostly uniform pace there is a lot of experimentation on the album. I for one found the band’s experimental foray brave and refreshing, but there is no question that for many fans it was too far removed from the band’s more thrash-centric sound. Others considered it unfocused, and while “Innocent Eyes” would have been a hit if written and performed by John Waite, many Annihilator fans were no longer in the mood for ballads. Nevertheless, the album is filled with melodic and catchy songs like the hooky “Hunger” the piston-riffed thump of “Syn. Kill One” and the twin punch of “Ultraparanoia” and “The Box.”
When the dust cleared, the album was embraced by new fans just discovering Annihilator, while many old fans respected the experimentation but waited for Waters to find his way on future albums (which he would, REFRESH THE DEMON providing some of the templates Waters would incorporate into the band’s future sound). Now, nearly 20 years removed many folks are rediscovering this album and finding it ain’t half bad. Obviously, if you are fan of Annihilator’s thrashy, more technical and progressive side, then you will only find a handful of songs to your liking on REFRESH THE DEMON. Others, though will find the catchy and resonating songs a welcome diversion from what is ultimately a technical thrash metal band most of the time.