Annihilator – Metal II

Metal II is the start of a project that will see almost all of the Annihilator back catalogue re-released by Jeff Waters as he aims to tidy up his legacy and remind everyone why Annihilator is Canada’s leading thrash metal band of all time.

Annihilator‘s back-catalogue is certainly an interesting one. There are some stone-cold classics in there, some abrupt deviations in style and then there are a few stinkers along the way too.

Metal II is the first in line to receive the reissue treatment. Originally released as Metal in 2007, this is a revamped version of the record which sees Dave Lombardo re-recording the drums and Stu Block taking over main vocal duties. The guest vocals and guitars along with Waters’ guitar work remain from the original version but it’s been chopped and changed and had a few new bits added in for good measure.

Now, it has to be acknowledged that Metal is by no means a standout album in the Annihilator catalogue. So, re-envisioning it may be beneficial in some ways but we still have a pretty average album to work with as a base here.

The first genius move is to stick Chasing The High up there as the opening track. The Willie Adler-driven track is one of the best on the LP, but it was lost at the end of the original record. With Adler on board, the track has obvious Lamb Of God vibes, but this is broken up by the extended melodic sequence more typical of Waters’ work. Block is the most interesting dimension to this new take on the track however as he apes Randy Blythe to complete that LOG experience and also throws in some Rob Halford-style screams.

Block is the main factor that will make or break this album. He certainly has a wide vocal range and is a more able vocalist than the original Dave Padden, but sometimes you get the feeling he’s a bit of a jack-of-all-trades on here. As he switches wildly between traditional and more modern techniques, he loses a bit of his own identity in the shake-up.

Lombardo on the other hand, certainly improves the drum sound. All tracks were done in three takes in his home studio and the drums in particular have a raw and organic feel to them. Metal II has a very live feel to it, which is miles away from the truth when you consider different parts of these tracks were recorded more than a decade apart.

The ultra-heavy Downright Dominate shows off the late Alexi Laiho’s crazy slalom-like skills along the fretboard. This is followed by the more anthemic fist-pumper of Army Of One, featuring Lips from Anvil.

A cover of Van Halen’s Romeo Delight is a fresh new track for Metal II and see’s the band abandon the thrash and go full rock n’ roll with great success.

You can’t really get away from the fact that the highlights from the original album are still the highlights here on Metal II. The collision in vocal styles of Angela Gossow and Danko Jones on the brilliant Couple Suicide was the best thing on Metal… and it’s the best thing on Metal II.

This renewed Metal II is a slightly more cohesive album now. The drums and vocals are both improved, the track-listing is better sequenced and we have a great rendition of a Van Halen classic added into the mix. However, these improvements don’t really take Metal II to the next level; it’s still just a decent album. Nothing more, nothing less!

Metal II is available now via earMusic

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