Annihilator

Metal

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Some album titles offer little, if any, indication of what the music sounds like, but Metal is a highly appropriate title for this album because it contains exactly that: metal -- specifically, thrash metal with alternative metal moves here and there. Given the numerous personnel changes that Annihilator has experienced along the way, longtime fans couldn't help but wonder what new lineup guitarist Jeff Waters (Annihilator's only constant over the years) would be unveiling this time. But in fact, the lineup on Metal -- Waters on lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and bass, Dave Padden on lead vocals, and Mike Mangini on drums -- is the same lineup that appears on 2004's All for You and 2005's Schizo Deluxe. For those who have been following Annihilator since the '80s, it is surprising to see Waters being able to maintain the same lineup for three albums in a row. The main difference between this 2007 recording and the two Waters/Padden/Mangini discs that came before it is the fact that on Metal, Waters employs a long list of guest musicians. Among the guests: Willie Adler of Lamb of God, Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom, Jesper Strömblad of In Flames and Anders Bjorler of the Haunted. That is an attention-grabbing list of guests, but ultimately, it is Waters, Padden, and Mangini who do the most to make Metal worthwhile, and inspired tracks like "Downright Dominate," "Clown Parade," and "Detonation" demonstrate that Annihilator can still deliver quality thrash after all these years. Waters, not Padden, handles the lead vocals on "Operation Annihilation," reminding us that Padden is, in fact, a much better singer. But Waters' guitar-playing skills are consistently impressive on Metal, which falls short of essential but is still an exciting and ballsy demonstration of what Annihilator's Waters/Padden/Mangini lineup has to offer.

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