10/17/2008 - Review by: Vinaya Saksena
A lack of memorable material here
What a bold title, huh? When you have the audacity to use a single word that's as singular to metal as, well... Metal, then you better have a solid musical alloy to offer; Annihilator main man Jeff Waters certainly has for much of his career, and I have come to have a good deal of respect for his work, despite not being a die-hard thrash fan.
Metal, however, is a bit of a letdown in my book and not just because of the grand implications of its title. Waters' guitar playing is as flawless and disciplined as it always has been, and he does come up with some pretty catchy riffs here and there. However, none of that rivals much of what he has done in the past and there are other problems with this disc.
Foremost among these problems,is vocalist Dave Patton, who annoys the hell out of me with his performance here, alternating between tuneless barking and the occasional cookie-cutter modern rock whine for the more melodic bits. Generic vocal effects commonly used in modern radio rock only make matters worse, and a god-awful duet by Danko Jones and Arch Enemy's Angela Gossow on the confused "Couple Suicide" puts the final nail in the coffin, vocally.
Further annoyance comes in the form of songwriting that is acceptable, but often far below Waters' previous standards in my opinion. There is a feeling of trying to go for a somewhat more mainstream metal sound here, perhaps in an attempt to woo the Hot Topic teen metal crowd. I mean, these riffs would be more than serviceable for a modern mall metal act, but coming from Waters, they strike me as a slight but noticeable dumbing down of his craft. For example, album closer "Chasing the High" is a prolonged and punishing thrash tour de force much like Annihilator has offered up in the past, but is nowhere near as interesting musically as its earlier counterparts such as, say, "Hunter Killer" from Carnival Diablos, probably my favorite of the band's recent albums.
On the upside, the apparent ploy to make a modernized metal album has prompted Waters to invite some fleet-fingered young hotshots to work their six-string magic on Metal. The list consists pretty much of the guys a certain popular American guitar magazine has been hyping the hell out of lately (when they've managed to put someone other than Zakk Wylde on the cover), with Children of Bodom's somewhat overhyped but talented Alexi Laiho laying down a particularly impressive solo on the up-tempo stomper "Downright Dominate."
However, all that shredding cannot make up for the lack of memorable material here. I'm truly disappointed, but hold out hope that Waters can get it together, ditch all trendy mall metal pretensions and get back to the diverse, melodic and groovy form of thrash that he has always pulled off so well.
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