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Annihilator in Hell
Alice In Hell - Annihilator
Member Name: Jarisleif
Alice In Hell - Annihilator
Date: 31/01/12, updated on 05/05/12 (7 review reads)
Advantages: A great thrash metal album
Disadvantages: Waters takes on too much
"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
4. Wicked Mystic
5. Burns Like a Buzzsaw Blade
6. Word Salad
7. Schizos (Are Never Alone) Parts I & II
9. Human Insecticide
My rating: 7/10
Summary: Thrash metal annihilation in a good way.