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Alice In Hell - Annihilator

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Genre: Hard Rock & Metal - Heavy Metal / Artist: Annihilator / Audio CD released 1996-09-01 at Roadrunner

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    3 Reviews
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      31.01.2012 17:26
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      Thrash metal annihilation in a good way.

      "Alice in Hell" is the debut album by Canadian thrashers, Annihilator. It was released in 1989 via Roadrunner Records and was produced by the band's founding member, Jeff Waters. The credits on the album go to Randy Rampage (vocals), Jeff Waters (guitar), Anthony Greenham (guitar), Wayne Darley (bass) and Ray Hartmann (drums).

      Although the album credits both members, it is thought that Greenham and Darley did not play on the album, and Waters played all the guitar and bass parts on an album that was five years in the making since the formation of Annihilator, although the band did have three demo recordings done before this album.

      "Crystal Ann" kicks things off with a stunning instrumental, all played by Jeff Waters' guitars. At 100 seconds long it's a short intro but it's played with passion and you can tell Waters put a lot of effort into getting this right.

      "Alison Hell" is up next, and is probably Annihilator's most famous song of all - it's certainly the song I first heard by the band, and the song that made me buy this very album when I heard it on the Power Hour, which was ITV's version of Headbanger's Ball, shown late on a Friday Night. It's a song about a girl who is alone and scared, knowing that there's something out there waiting but she doesn't know when it's coming for her. Rampage's vocals are excellent here, and it's a shame Waters played musical chairs with his band members so much, or this could have been the making of a very good line-up.

      The next song is "W.T.Y.D." (Welcome to Your Death), and I think it is a song about how one can be lulled into a false sense of security before being put to the sword. The hand is outstretched and welcoming, but it's also the hand that takes your life. One thing I like about this song is Waters' use of the guitars but in another way I think he tries too hard at times. I don't know if he thought he was going to be the next Dave Mustaine, but the riffs are certainly reminiscent of Megadeth. It's still a good song, though, with a strange bridge that changes tempo a lot.

      "Wicked Mystic" begins with a short intro before a rapid solo and then the main riff of the song. Unfortunately, apart from a pounding bass line the song goes by with barely a shining moment. I'm not sure why it doesn't cause a spark, but I am certain that it wasn't written with Randy Rampage's vocals in mind because he seems to struggle to hit certain notes. One of the highlight of the song is Hartmann's use of his drumkit's various pieces.

      "Burns Like a Buzzsaw Blade" is a song about the human primal instinct of lust, and has some interesting time changes which give it a different dimension than the rest of the songs on the album. There's some serious riffing being done here, and the solo towards the end of the song reminds me of Metallica's Kirk Hammett in its speed and delivery. It's not a brilliant song but it has its moments which do rock.

      In "Word Salad" the narrator is strapped to an operating table while men in white coats inject him with a fluid which gives him a lobotomy, and, although he can't move or speak, he's describing what's going on in his head. This is one of my favourite songs on the album, but again, Rampage's vocals don't fit the song much. At times it's almost as if he's speaking the lyrics - just going through the motions - but at other times in the song, he's nailing it.

      "Schizos (Are Never Alone) Parts I & II" should have been a very good song but it fails to hit the spot. I think that's mainly because it stop/starts in places where it really shouldn't, instead of letting the song structure flow. Again, there are too many time changes which spoil it, really. It's a song about schizophrenia and how the endless chattering of the voices inside the narrator's head keep him company at all times, even if he doesn't want them to.

      "Ligeia" is where Randy Rampage finally comes into the limelight as he dishes out the vocal performance of the album. It's a song about Edgar Allan Poe's short story of the same name, where a much loved wife dies then returns to possess the man's new wife, to become Ligeia once again. There's some splendid guitar playing on show here with a great riff in place. This is one of the best songs on the album.

      "Human Insecticide" completes the album in fine form, as drums, guitars and bass combine into a punching bag of heavy metal which is sweet music to the thrash-tuned ears. This, for me, is the best song on the album for its raw energy and togetherness of the instruments. The chorus gets me pumped every time I listen to it, and it will do the same for you, too.

      In summary, Annihilator was one of the newest thrash metal bands of the late 1980s to hit the scene and should have become one of the best. Various line-up changes put paid to that, but as far as debut albums go, this is a good one... in places. It's like opening a packet of biscuits - the first one tastes great, but if you leave them a day the top one is always soft so you throw that away and take the next one which is back to its best. This album starts off great and then goes off a little before regaining its strength. So it's a little hit and miss for me, but I still give it a listen now and then, and I would recommend it for its strong songs which outweigh its weak ones.

      1. Crystal Ann
      2. Alison Hell
      3. W.T.Y.D.
      4. Wicked Mystic
      5. Burns Like a Buzzsaw Blade
      6. Word Salad
      7. Schizos (Are Never Alone) Parts I & II
      8. Ligeia
      9. Human Insecticide

      My rating: 7/10

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    • More +
      18.05.2010 13:56
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      Alice in Hell is the First and Best Annihilator Album and Deserves a Listen

      My first album review and I hope you guys like it!

      This is where metal came from. If you haven't heard of annihilator (and you probably haven't) then you're missing out big time on one of the greatest thrash acts of all time. Many modern metal artists cite Annihilator and Jeff Waters as key influences.

      This is an old album by today's standards but it still sounds great! It's amazing to listen to where all the riffs and licks in modern metal really came from. This is not to say that this album is a relic, it's a good piece of listening for any true metal fan.

      As a thrash band annihilator are similar to the likes of testament, exodus and metallica etc but are one of the few bands that really have their own sound. Although steer clear of any of their modern offerings from 2006 onwards.

      Alice in Hell was their first album and was a great success at the time. Lyrically it is really silly and you'll find this throughout the annihilator catalogue. Perhaps it wasn't silly at the time but it is nowadays when we've heard it all before 'Welcome to your death'?

      Now musically and in metal that's what's important, it is killer! The riffs are inspired and Jeff Waters (the man behind the music and lead guitarist among other instruments) really creates a magic sound that can't be replicated by any other person. The title track sums this up nicely.

      Variety is important on an album, how many albums do you just think "is this on repeat?". Not this album. Every song has something new to bring to the table for example despite being a metal album 'Crystal Ann' is a warm classical guitar piece that acts as a great lead in to the next track.

      If you are a guitarist then this is worth checking out because the solos are REAL solos how they should be. They're fast and technical but also melodic which is a balance hard to find in modern metal.

      Seriously check this out, there isn't a bad track on it.

      (Also posted on Ciao)

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      • More +
        22.01.2008 19:30
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        Annihilator's first album (1989).

        This classic of thrash metal from Canada's Annihilator lives up to the eccentricity of its album art, giving even the weirder moments of Megadeth a run for their money. Randy Rampage (perhaps not his real name) is a little reminiscent of Dave Mustaine in his evil snarl and first-person monologues from the perspective of various demonic creatures, but he's also capable of reaching those ear-shattering high notes that escaped the range or embarrassment threshold of most thrash singers.

        Multi-talented axeman Jeff Waters' guitars provide everything that's expected from a thrash album, and a little more, as each song's speedy riffs are supplemented by wild, tangential solos and the occasional excellent spot of dual harmonising, though always kept strictly within a dark thrash boundary that voids the cheery heights of something like Judas Priest's 'Exciter.' The band has a great grasp of structure, and more specifically how to screw it up in interesting ways, incorporating effective acoustic passages into the most impressive offerings 'Alison Hell' and 'Word Salad' without ever threatening to become ballads, and even the potentially distracting silliness is kept to a minimum and usually confined to the ends of songs, like the screeching finale of 'Burns Like a Buzzsaw Blade.' This album is heavy (in a late eighties way), but isn't confined by this heaviness or a desire to play fast and loud at the sake of other important elements.

        Despite seeming like an album aimed at a very select minority - thrash metal fans with a sense of humour, perhaps? - this is still highly accessible, though it will doubtless take some time to grow on unsuspecting newcomers. There's an impressive mix between medium- and fast-paced songs, the subject matter varies from the bizarre to the sombre, and 'Ligeia' even has a catchy vocal melody, while each instrument provides enough fodder for more technically-minded listeners, particularly Ray Hartmann's drums that frequently find time to veer all over the place outside of their duller function of rhythm-keeping. This may never rank among the thrash metal classics, but it's certainly one for experienced fans to try.

        1. Crystal Ann
        2. Alison Hell
        3. W.T.Y.D.
        4. Wicked Mystic
        5. Burns Like a Buzzsaw Blade
        6. Word Salad
        7. Schizos (Are Never Alone) Parts I & II
        8. Ligeia
        9. Human Insecticide

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Crystal Ann
      2 WTYD
      3 Burns Like A Buzzsaw Blade
      4 Schizos (Are Never Alone)
      5 Human Insecticide
      6 Alison Hell
      7 Wicked Mystic
      8 Word Salad
      9 Ligeia