It seems odd that as a Canadian site we missed reviewing the last Annihilator album, seeing as they are arguably Canada’s biggest Metal band. So, on July 1st, (our National holiday) I am writing a review of SUICIDE SOCIETY, the bands 15th studio album.
Still safely at home on the UDR label, the band went through a massive line-up change…again. The biggest change this time was the amicable parting of Dave Padden who sang on the last five studio albums and holds the distinction of being the longest serving member of the band, after founder Jeff Waters. So it’s down to Jeff and a newcomer, Mike Harshaw on drums. The CD presentation is nice, Gyula Havancsak gets the call again to do the cool artwork, a sort of evil Transformer (Annihilator?) type giant robot dude looming over a destroyed city. The booklet has the lyrics, notes etc, Jeff never skimps on presentation.
My initial impression when SUICIDE SOCIETY came out was not too good. The first single was a bit weak, the video was uninspired and I was mourning the loss of Padden. Waters can sing/growl/talk but he is no Padden. I bought the album (on a trip to Toronto) and shelved it for quite a while, relegating to the bottom third of the expansive band catalogue. When I decided to review this I revisited the album and my appreciation for it grew considerably.
SUICICE SOCIETY is stripped down and pretty raw. What sort of bothered me at first, as being a bit too simplistic, even with some unsettling punk overtones, has evolved into an appreciation of this being a straight-up Metal record. It has hints of thrash, lots of speed but it is not a ‘pure’ thrash album like say…I dunno…Suicidal Angels or somebody. BUT! Annihilator has always danced across a few sub-genres as Jeff writes what he wants to write. It is not as dynamic or sonically interesting as some of his other albums, but it is solid. Waters does his best talk/sing vocals much like David Mustaine, barking out lines and lyrics about society, drugs, addiction, crime and more. I wonder if the track ‘Break, Enter’ is based on a true story of criminal thugs breaking into his house? ‘Snap’ is a bit of an oddity in terms of construction, but also retains that quirky Annihilator style and is the closest thing that could be considered a ‘ballad’. It has such a melodic chorus, that feels a bit at odds with the lyrical subject matter, but it works really well. I almost hear strains of Alice Cooper in the whispered, breathy vocal delivery and I like it. Guitar? Lots of it. Jeff shreds away and has, as always, top-notch soloing.
SUICICE SOCIETY is a bit of a dark horse in my mind, in a good way. The more I spin this, the more it grows in my estimation. If you are a fan of the band, how could you not buy it? Long live Canada’s best Metal band.
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