Annihilator are the relentless dandelion band out of the 80s trash scene in Canada. A great band that emerged just at the wrong time, during the ascendancy of grunge. Sort of like Dream Theater hitting just a little late. Not to say that Annihilator is as progressive as DT, but they do have their moments. Check out the highly proggy and very DT-like “Lunatic Asylum”. “Phantasmagoria” is a classic of epic proportions that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Trapped Under Ice and Creeping Death. Overall, Annihilator are heavier than Metallica, with Slayer, Testament, Megadeth, Onslaught, Pantera and even Disturbed “colors” noticeable too. They can even get into a Rush (“Bliss”), Judas Priest (“Striker”) or AC/DC groove (“Shallow Grave”). But high-octane, wall-of-Marshalls pedal-tone CRUNCH (“Refresh the Demon”,”King of the Kill”,”The Blackest Day”,”I Am in Command”) dominates — all great classic 80s style trash/speed-metal). If you are playing this in your car, please WATCH your SPEEDO! I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the best track is the more mid-tempo “Torn” which blends their influences into a synergy that is irreducible to them and therefore sound ORIGINAL. “Alison Hell” and “Never, Neverland” are others one that have that DISTINCT “Annihilator” sound. Lyrically, some of this material reminds me, again, of Dream Theater. Compare “Never, Neverland” with DT’s “Strange Deja Vu” from Scenes from a Memory or “Space Dye Vest” from Awake.
This live 2-CD set covers their entire career and gives a nice representative sampling of their styles. The production values are also OUTSTANDING. This really captures the mood of intensity, power, aggression and the raw energy of a good metal concert. Sometimes the crowd mix is a bit obtrusive, but otherwise if you like this style of music, it’s really hard to find flaws. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.