Jeff Waters and co. are back with their 17th (wow!) album, less than three years after the great For The Demented. Just a little bit awkwardly titled, Ballistic, Sadistic features Fabio Alessandrini, with everything else (vocals included) performed and recorded by Waters (Mr. Riff) himself. The album picks up just where For The Demented left, with an excellent sound and production. The attitude is once again old-school, and there is a feeling of authenticity and not just a desire for that. This is not the forced attempt of a newly reunited 80s band to bring back past glories, but THE real deal.
Armed To The Teeth is exactly the opener we come to expect from Annihilator, with all trademarks present, but also with a lot of edge and vigor on display. The next song, unfortunately, and too early in the album play through, is a prime example of the minor, but anyway present, faults of Ballistic, Sadistic. The Attitude, I Am Warfare and Riot are just playing it all too safe and deliberately aiming at reproducing late 80s – early 90s classic stuff we are all too familiar with (see above). Jeff, we all know you can do so much better, man! This guy is so choke-full of ideas, he doesn’t need to throw in a song like Lip Service, which is second-rate King Of The Kill all the way. However, two-thirds of the album IS inspired – the riffs are shredding like crazy, with insane drumming from Mr. Alessandrini, who often steals the show from his “boss”.
One Wrong Move, Out With The Garbage and Dressed Up For Evil remind us once again why Annihilator is unique: thrash played with surgical precision, with just the right dose of classic heavy metal and melodic breakdowns to make this band the dream concert companion to not only Slayer, but also Judas Priest. What makes me slightly angry is what I hinted at earlier – this album needs a little bit more effort and brave decisions to score a 10/10. Now, we don’t want Annihilator to stop being themselves or throw in some Mastodon riffs, just….. reduce the auto-quotations to a minimum, Jeff. We won’t love you less, we promise!