Review: “Ballistic Sadistic” by Annihilator

Produced, Engineered and Mixed by band Mastermind Jeff Waters, “Ballistic Sadistic” was recorded at the brand new, state-of-the-art Watersound Studios UK in Durham in 2019 with additional engineering and editing by bassist Rich Hinks and Mastering by Maor Appelbaum (Faith No More, Halford) at Maor Appelbaum Mastering in California. Annihilator now boast a line up that has been together in its entirety for four years with Jeff Waters taking on both lead guitar and vocal duties joined by guitarist Aaron Homma, drummer Fabio Alessandrini and bassist Rich Hinks for the next chapter and studio album number #17.

Annihilator should need no introductions. 36 years down the road and now at studio album seventeen which opens up with “Armed To The Teeth“, a classic Thrash anthem with as you would expect, some bright lead flourishes from Jeff Waters, who lets face it, is Mr Annihilator. Who can forget that green with envy look that Machine Head main man Rob Flynn gave Waters during the making of the Roadrunner United album? The track itself is effectively the title track of the album itself with “Ballistic, Sadistic, armed to the teeth” being the main chorus line with a fist pumping, crowd chanting attitude. Ever heard the saying “Good living is the best revenge“? well that’s exactly what Waters has done and with “The Attitude” he calls out the naysayers who’s attitude and approach has dragged him down over the years. A Technical Thrash-ter-piece it demonstrates that Walters has plenty of aggression and gas left in the tank to couple with his unquestionable skills. What he has this time around in the trio that join him in Annihilator is a group who understand what it’s all about and how to get it done. They’re the perfect match for Waters talent and are deserving of plenty of credit in their own right. “Psycho Ward” does things a little differently with a face melter of a solo that elegantly moves in to a high paced melodic Classic Rock bridge before bursting back into the Thrash chugs. It’s a fun sing-a-long track that has everything you could possibly want and more in the mix. It should go down really well in the live arena, though how you pick a set list from the bands career…

There are hints at “Master Of Puppets” era Metallica with “I Am Warfare” which has the classic Thrash lyrical themes of violence and paranoia with a backing track of gun fire and bullet ricochets. A far heavier and more aggressive cut than the previous one, it’s a tale of an apocalyptic future that everyone can enjoy and if we’re being honest, this is the kind of cut that Metallica fans would kill for them to produce now. The oddly titled “Out With The Garbage” throws the baby out with the bath water, metaphorically speaking, with a desire to wipe the slate clean. Perhaps Waters wanted to concentrate on his guitar playing over the majority of the bands career but given their luck with a seemingly never ending revolving door of vocalists, Waters took the helm, as he has done previously in short bursts and frankly we’re left wondering why he didn’t do the job from the start. He’s more than capable and this is a fine example of that. “Dressed Up For Evil” keeps up the unrelenting quality of the album with a classic finger pointing lyric and a seemingly unending amount of headbangable riffs. Nothing sounds tired, nothing sounds old or like it’s been under the heat lamps. Everything sounds bright, fresh, crisp and new and Hinks and Appelbaum have done a phenomenal job in the chair. There are a couple of short cross overs to 80’s Hard Rock or Hair Metal in the mix but it’s short lived and simply makes for a point of difference rather than a sonic break away. Talking about the violent voices in his head and wanting them to go quiet in “Riot“, a metaphorical call to arms, it’s the shortest track on the album and one of the vocally more destructive.

The gang chanted chorus of “One Wrong Move” owes a little bit to Hardcore while the riffs in the first half of the track are a whirlwind of blistering circle pit action until a rapid drop off to a melodic part that might have you thinking it’s another song. A soaring set of bright moments that have a depth and beauty, they dive back down into the main track for the final couple of minutes like it shouldn’t belong – and on paper it shouldn’t – but it works incredibly well. Expect the unexpected and everything will be just fine. Hicks gets his moment in the limelight with the bass driven segments of “Lip Service“, that has the touch of insanity that Dave Mustaine brought to Megadeth in their finest hour and in case you haven’t guessed it, it’s an ode to providing the female of the species with the pleasures of the flesh. There is a certain amount of tongue in cheek humor involved and the Classic Metal lead parts are a pleasure you can’t measure. Some how the lyrics avoid being cringe worthy and we can only imagine there were a few re-writes to get them right. “The End Of The Lie” takes things back to the serious lyrics of the majority of the album, having had that brief respite that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Its a venomous cut that flies in the face of anyone who things the final song is merely a filler. Keeping the energy up, Waters suggests that repenting for your sins is what you should be doing and the band deliver the message in thunderous fashion. “Ballistic Sadistic” proves there is plenty of life left in this band yet [7.5/10]

Track listing

1. Armed To The Teeth
2. The Attitude
3. Psycho Ward
4. I Am Warfare
5. Out With The Garbage
6. Dressed Up For Evil
7. Riot
8. One Wrong Move
9. Lip Service
10. The End Of The Lie

Ballistic Sadistic” by Annihilator is out now via Silver Lining Music

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