Annihilator - Ballistic, Sadistic

Annihilator Ballistic, Sadistic cover
Ballistic, Sadistic
Silver Lining Music
Annihilator are an interesting band… the brainchild of one of the genre’s better guitarists Jeff Waters; they went from great success to a hiatus and then a career full of ups and downs. After meeting considerable success with its first three albums, the band went on a short hiatus and Waters attempted to push on with “King of the Kill” largely being a solo effort that was later cast with musicians and toured… an album later, the attempt to go all Pantera (who had opened for them and Priest a few years prior and had become a considerable success since), didn’t quite pan out for them ending up being the biggest flop in the band’s career. An attempt was made to reunite the “Alice” lineup that produced a rather successful album, but that quickly disintegrated on tour, with Liege Lord’s Joe Comeau taking over and staying for a couple of albums, before he too was gone.
The band then released about half a dozen progressively worse albums over the next decade with its rhythm guitarist Dave Padden assuming lead vocals. While he wasn’t a bad fit, the material on most of those albums, especially the latter ones was blunt, derivative and downright pretty boring.
For the last three albums, including the present “Ballistic Sadistic”, the bands seventeenth studio outing, Jaters has assumed the vocals, which works fine in the studio but makes a lot of their live performances – near instrumental, as he seems unable to consistently front the band and play guitar at the same time. Plus they’ve not toured with any interesting bands in ages, probably going for the cheaper or more ludicrous options.
The album brings a welcome return of live drums, after having to suffer programmed crap for ages, which is nice, but it all starts to go downhill from there. While, the proper attitude is there, in the first album, that I must have somewhat enjoyed from the band, without purchasing it half price out of pity and for wanting to keep the collection complete, since oooh, I dunno the Comeau days?! Nearly some twenty years ago. One more than a few occasions, however there’s lazy recycling of riffs from older songs… but more on that in a minute…
“Armed to the Teeth” feels like a nice throwback to the band’s 90s dates, but lyrically it replaces those fantasies, with questionable “social” messages, as it still needs to portray some sort of machismo – it only does so by inverting the roles, in a twisted way.
When I mentioned that there’s the right sort of attitude, previously, I didn’t expect that there was gonna be a song by that name… “The Attitude” is a sprinting thrasher that raises a poetic middle finger during its chorus, the actual only portion that Waters doesn’t go all Slay-er on his fretboard… it’s fun, but not particularly memorable, I could see however its purpose as a quick banger for live shows, which doesn’t require too much vocal prowess.
“Psychoward” is basically, “Stonewall” in disguise… and while it works, it’s a prime example of repackaging old goods, something that Jaters has done time and again.
“I Am Warfare” mixes it’s sociopolitics, with a cartoony slayer violence but has a somewhat nice verse that turns out to act as chorus and a couple of nifty ideas to differentiate itself slightly (ie the marching part/break), but it’s not much more than cannon fodder and it’s somewhat nice solo feels mostly out of place and wasted on it.
“Out with the Garbage” follows the same runs the band usually does, with a very predictable built and a saying as a building block for the chorus, allegedly getting rid of the unnecessary stuff… a little cold, sadistic an short sighted maybe, but hey… it’s a fantasy.
“Dressed up for Evil” feels like it could have been conceived during the Comeau days, making it one of the more dynamic and interesting songs on offer. It doesn’t change the formula too much, but at least gets it like really “right”.
“Riot” feels weird, as vocals actually don’t come in until some way in. It’s interesting to see the band attempting to write a mid-paced tune, it almost feels like a novelty, but other than some pre-solo melody and a heavy riff, I can’t say I enjoyed much else, other than the change of pace…
We go back into the fray, with “One Wrong Move”, a song that sounds like Annihi-deth, with Waters channeling his best in tune Mustaine vocals, but other than some flash fretboard histrionics and the interesting acoustic interlude in the middle, there’s not much else worth psyching over.
“Lip Service” sounds like an alternative take of “Knight Jumps Queen” with different lyrics, a worse chorus and whiney Mustained vocals. Really bad... case of self-referencing and it’s so much worse than the original.
“End of the Lie” might be a nice pun, on the well-known saying, but it’s more average as a song, at least picking up some of the obvious slack of the album that begins with “Riot” and doesn’t quite end until all is done.
Too many self-reference moments, too little substance and originality and songs written around easier performances are not a good sign. I suppose, the return of proper drums should be greeted with some glee, but other than a handful of strong moments, there’s not so much in “Ballistic, Sadistic” as to seriously excite.