Annihilator - Metal II review
|Release date:||February 2022|
01. Chasing The High [feat. Willie Adler]
02. Downright Dominate [feat. Alexi Laiho]
03. Army Of One [feat. Steve “Lips” Kudlow]
04. Couple Suicide [feat. Danko Jones & Angela Gossow]
05. Heavy Metal Maniac [Exciter cover] [feat. Dan Beehler & Allan Johnson]
06. Haunted [feat. Jesper Strömblad]
07. Romeo Delight [Van Halen cover]
08. Detonation [feat. Jacob Lynam]
09. Clown Parade [feat. Jeff Loomis]
10. Smothered [feat. Anders Björler]
11. Kicked [feat. Corey Beaulieu]
Back In lack.
Re-recording one of the brighter spots in what was an otherwise unremarkable period in their career, Canadian heavyweights Annihilator return to give Metal a fresh coat of paint and a facelift, due to the audible aging process that has occurred in the 15-year interval. While the resulting product isn’t too far removed from its original form, it just about slides through with the minimal amount of new elements and pieces to make it worth a spin or two; give Metal II a listen and revisit what feels like an old friend.
Metal gained notoriety as the album that read like a who’s who of big names in metal, from Lamb Of God's Willy Adler, to (now ex-)In Flames guitarist Jesper Strömblad, with a whole host of others in between. Metal II keeps these guest performances but trades out Dave Padden’s vocals for ex-Iced Earth singer Stu Block and, perhaps most significantly, sees ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo step behind the drum kit.
While the songs stay the same for the most part, the mixing and production on Metal II isn’t of the quality you would expect to allow the album to gain its own separate identity from Metal without the listener having to squint to hear the differences. The obvious two changes are of course the presence of Lombardo and Stu Block; the former packs in a more punkish form of energy to proceedings, while Block detracts from the original material, with a performance that sounds tired and half-hearted. There are a few exceptions where Metal II improves on their original incarnation’s, namely “Couple Suicide” and “Army Of One”, as they both lean into their inherent groove more than in their original versions.
The album’s best moments still remain “Clown Parade”, “Haunted” and “Downright Dominate” (which now unfortunately has become a tribute to Alexi Laiho, R.I.P.), with the new remixed versions further highlighting the quality gap between these three songs and the rest of the album. Beyond this, there is little else that separates Metal and Metal II enough to really give the latter an identity of its own. Whether this is enough to make you want to actively listen to it consistently beyond curiosity’s sake is up to you, but for myself, after a few repeated listens I found myself scratching my head as to why I would seek out this record on its own merits.
With that said, the tracks that didn’t work the first time round still don’t work here. “Romeo’s Delight” still lacks that charm and charisma that Van Halen were able to imbue into the song, sounding here like a caricature of said band. Also, while Lombardo is an improvement on Mangini (in the context of these songs), Block is a step down from Padden’s original performance (his vocals being the bright spot for much of his tenure in the band), with his voice slowly grating as the album goes on.
Metal II at best, just about gives you a reason to give it a spin, if only for curiosity's sake, or owing to a slight nostalgia for an album that isn’t revisited very often. Lacking much in the way to establish its own separate identity from its source material, Metal II feels like a half-hearted attempt at kickstarting the re-issue drive the band are focusing on in the near future; hopefully, they learn their mistakes now and ensure going forward that they do better.
||Written on 28.02.2022 by|
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