Annihilator Carnival Diablos

It feels good to see classic thrash bands survive and age gracefully. Unlike some other bands from the glory days of thrash (Slayer, Metallica, Destruction and Suicidal Tendencies), Annihilator has grown up but are still flying the flag of metal. So, a big hail goes out to them for that, and Carnival Diablos is worthy of your precious head-banging time, as you'll know within a few minutes of raging opener "Denied." Jeff Waters, always the showman, is the man of the hour here, both riffs and solos being a thing of metallic beauty. Really, it could bring a tear to my eye. New vocalist Joe Comeau holds his own while being able to handle a nice range of metallic voices adequately; he does sort of fade into the background, though, as the excellent technical thrash tunes steal the show here. It's an interesting album, in that many of the songs are direct salutes to Jeff's favourite bands. So amongst the classic Annihilator tunes we get tips of the hat to Priest, Maiden, Metallica and an amazing AC/DC tribute/replica entitled "Shallow Grave." The originals are mainly fast, precise thrash, with the title track being a standout with its eerily melodic and catchy chorus. Love that production sound, too. (BMG)