The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Annihilator – Alice In Hell
The 80’s was all about thrash/speed metal, with the “big four” in the U.S. and a whole slew of bands from Germany taking listeners by storm, but unfortunately for me, I was just a young lad and didn’t get to enjoy it in it’s prime. Nearing the end of the 80’s, 1989 to be specific, one band in particular put their stamp on the thrash metal scene. Alongside albums like Testament’s Practice What You Preach, Overkill’s The Years of Decay and Exodus‘ Fabulous Disaster, Annihilator released their debut album, Alice in Hell…
As previously mentioned in older posts, I’m a big fan of thrash and speed metal, it was one of the main genres of metal that I listened too the most, above anything else. So Alice In Hell fit quite nicely with the rest of the thrash albums I had on rotation. The album starts with “Crystal Ann”, where an impressive classical guitar intro gently welcomes you in, but just as you start to feel comfortable and at ease, “Alison Hell” comes in and changes all that. The song is filled with an array of excellent leads and rhythm, catchy riffs, and harsh/piercing vocals. What is evident from the start with this band is, Jeff Waters is the main songwriter, playing not only lead guitar, but rhythm, classical and bass guitars, as well as backing vocals. The man is a machine and it shows throughout this album. Then there’s the vocals by Randy Rampage, and if that name isn’t metal enough, his range certainly is. He has a menacing approach to his delivery, both in aggression and intensity that’s reminiscent to that of Overkill’s Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth. But he also hits those high notes, most notably from 3:07 to 3:21 in “Alison Hell”, which comes off sounding pretty damn killer. (3:11 to 3:24 in the video below)
Basically, this album is a feast for the ears if you’re into thrash metal, it’s by no means the greatest, but it deserves accolades for being a top-notch thrash album when it was released. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the rest of their albums, as they slowly went downhill since Alice In Hell, expect for their follow up, Never, Neverland. Tracks like “Word Salad”, “Schizos (Are Never Alone)”, “W.T.Y.D.” and “Wicked Mystic” showcase Waters skills as a guitarist, and that alone is reason enough to listen to this album. The highlight of the album though is it’s closer, “Human Insecticide”, which is easily the most aggressive and fastest song on the whole album. This is their epic finale and damn do they hit all the right spots. A catchy as hell chorus and heavy, galloping riffs just dominate the entire song, while Rampage gives it everything he’s got and spews fourth the words with such psychotic rage.
An all around fast, catchy, thrash-tastic album, Alice In Hell is. Now I know there are plenty of other albums that tower above this, but nothing will take away how this album got my attention and hasn’t let go since then. I still come back to it every now and then, and not once have I ever skipped a track when I listen to it.
Annihilator – “Alison Hell”