Annihilator has always been Jeff Waters' band and everything has followed his vision through the decades. Hitting the ground running in the 80s and 90s with Alice In Hell and Never, Neverland they began to fall out of favour as musical tastes changed across the pond. European audiences continued to embrace their brand of sharply melodic thrash, even during the experimental phase that divided audiences. Luckily Waters' dedication to the music is as steadfast as the fans' loyalty to the band and album number 16 is a noticeable return to form.
This time round Waters has relinquished control and shared songwriting and production with trusted bass player Jeff Hinks. The fusion of classic metal with Hinks' 'math metal' as Waters calls it, has more in common with early thrash than a lot of their newer work. The objective for Waters was to uncover what it was about the thrash/melody combo of the first four albums that hit the hearts of fans. Technically it's right on the money and packed with clever syncopated riffs and oodles of melody; it seems that metal by numbers is a formula that really works for Annihilator. This album is the closest they have come to their early days and as a result, it can easily stand up as one of their best albums. The epoch of the classic thrash era may have past, but it's a sound that still has a profound resonance with the fans thirty years on.
The music is ferocious and seething from the off and includes some of the best tunes that the band have recorded in a while. The album opener Twisted Lobotomy is classic thrash and could be from any of their early works. The riffs are so fierce you're likely to give yourself a lobotomy from the head banging that the tracks will induce. The lyrics are typically metal, dark, destructive, politically savvy. Annihilator takes things one step further even dealing with mental illness, murder and cannibalism on tracks like Pieces of You and Phantom Asylum.
Things may have moved on musically since their first album, but for fans of old-school thrash, Annihilator has nailed it this time around. For the Demented is a testament to Waters' dedication and love for the genre and it's also an album that the fans deserve.