If one thinks about the long-standing thrash bands a few names pop into one’s mind, Overkill, Slayer, Anthrax, Exodus, and Kreator, just to name a few, however one band some overlook on their lists is Canada’s Annihilator. A band that formed in 1984, taking the time to redefine their sound into a technical thrash, and then working 2-years on their first album, ‘Alice in Hell’ incredibly fast, holding nothing back, delivering solid tracks and a standout album released by Roadrunner Records.
The opening track, “Crystal Ann”, serves as a simply intro to the very good song “Alison Hell”, likely their best known track all these years later, with its vocalist Randy Rampage that makes the song a lasting impact, his tone and style feels as mixture of Rob Halford meets Mustaine; aided by maestro Jeff Waters. Some might recall in 1989 Waters asked to join Dave Mustaine’s band Megadeth but declined all the numerous invitations, namely his band Annihilator just signed to Roadrunner Records, a job that went to Marty Friedman eventually. Major portions of the songs contain, incredible sections of instrumental, layering of riffs and solo sections as technical show-off shredding; then teasing with song tracks lyrics of horror themes. Such as, “Alison Hell”, a story of girl going insane due to nightmares, the song itself starts off slow building quickly, dazzling style, a roller-coaster ride of madness, supposedly based on true facts. Then the other songs of “W.T.Y.D.” [Welcome to Your Death], “Burns Like A Buzzsaw Blade” and “Human Insecticide” and the wicked “Ligeia”, obvious connection to Edgar Allan Poe’s story of the same name. One should that Randy passed on in 2018, and often fans miss-sing the “Wicked Mystic” actual lyrics in the chorus:
Some won’t fight, the battle is forsaken
Show no might, the dark side has awakened
Cenobites, the battle is forsaken
Cenobites, the dark side has awakened
Therefore, in you listen carefully one can tell the mishearing portion. Lastly, there’s the popular and often used riff, the really starts the “Alison Hell” track that used by other artists, such as Nucleator on their track “Treblinka”, likely the closest. However, the riff used back to Iron Maiden’s “2 Minutes to Midnight” (1984) and to Deep Purple “Burn” (1974) a much slower rendition, but if you listen note the drums entry into the track always done as a bit of homage to other, and not a rip-off as some claim.
Crystal Ann instrumental
Burns Like A Buzzsaw Blade
Schizos (Are Never Alone) Parts I & II
Jeff Waters – guitar, bass, lyrics (also served as Producer)
Randy Rampage – Vocals
Anthony Brian Greenham – guitar
Wayne Darley – bass
Ray Hartmann – drums
This album also contains, a very good amount of artwork, well shown on the original 12” vinyl album, showing a small doll alive, and the character Allison holding, what appears the Raggedy Ann doll, which many now reference to the paranormal duo, the Warrens and Annabelle. However, aside from that this become a successful debut for the band and blazed a path for them, which continues to this day, even though the line-up changed multiple times, the intent of the music never did, and continues to influence others such as with Cradle of Filth who did a cover it of on their Cryptoriana – Seductiveness of Decay (2017). Hence, the music of this alum strives forward and many in the metal genre fanbase remember this album, with new fans discovering these retro classics.