@ Newcastle Legends, November 13 2010

Get down to some serious thrash talk and the same names will come up time and time again.  

The big four of Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth might lay the most basic of mainstream foundations, and the likes of Death Angel and Evile may be the most common answers in questioning who are to be the saviours of the genre.

But despite this, there’s been a Canadian exponent of thrash that has remained somewhat in the undercurrent, away from the bedazzling limelight of huge arena bands and the egotistical swamp of Napster-bashing.  Step forward Annihilator.

To commence the proceedings on a night carved from a marvelous mash of excess, Norwegian hard rockers Svolk have the capabilities to stir up a tasteful storm.  Their set not only oozed attitude, but was soaked in raspy, coherent vocals and spliced with melodic solos, while at the same time there was potential there to pound into a pummelling, speedy structure, which they did consistently.

Yorkshire thrash anyone?  It might not be as conservative as their native tea, but Sworn Amongst certainly never intended their sound to be anything less than an unrestrained and phosphorous affair.  It’s fair to say their set grew stronger, with final song Rules Of Engagement making it’s impression to provide the bone-crunching finisher before the main act.

For fans, raw passion and blunt aggression is their hunger and fortunately for them Annihilator fed their gluttony in frequent and vivacious mouthfuls.  Ambush did exactly what a thrash song of it’s title is meant to do by opening the performance in frenzied fashion.

Aiming high and setting the standard from the off, there was never one hurdle too many, and if anything, Jeff Waters and Dave Padden made things look simple in their enjoyment, alongside bassist Alberto Campuzano and drummer Carlos Cantatore.

To say that Waters is revered as one of metal’s finest guitarists may be an understatement. Waters is the penultimate member of Annihilator, conceiving his love-child in 1984 and achieving a debut album by 1989, before turning down Dave Mustaine’s offer to join Megadeth.  Now that’s dedication.

His experience shone through in King Of The Kill, where his fretboard lit up in display. Every red dot of light illuminated the neck like a runway, though clearly he didn’t need any direction in landing every precise stroke and note.

If he or any other of his band members needed extra assistance for anything, it was for the sound problems that perpetually attempted to jeopardise the set like a parasitical nuisance. Despite it, Annihilator focused on delivering for their fans and, after Waters was told that his set would have to be cut by three to four songs, he allowed fans to make a two-out-of-three song choice, to which the cheer factor deemed Phantasmagoria and Alice In Hell worthy of finishing the show.

Democracy prevailed and with fine results, as both provided a massive consolation for the premature set.  From the nostalgic rockers to the fresh-faced adolescents, Alice In Hell sent the mosh hot-spots into bustling disarray to end what was a good night for casual onlookers and a great night for the thrash buffs.

What is most satisfying about Annihilator is not just their straight-up honest approach to their sound but also the fact that in an intimate setting such as this one, there’s an inescapable charm.

They’re steely advocates of a ‘meat and potato’ mentality and if you couple that with some stalwart musicianship, you have yourself a great combination.  In truth, Annihilator will never gain the commercial recognition achieved by any of the so called ‘big four’, but that’s not a bad thing.

Calum Robson