Annihilator – Ballistic, Sadistic (Silver Lining Music)

County Durham’s tradition for mining coal is famous the world over.

Its reputation for forging molten metal, less so.

But Ballistic, Sadistic is about to change all that.

Annihilator’s crushing new studio album might have been conceived in a quiet suburb of one of the prettiest cities in North East England.

But there’s nothing quiet or pretty about Jeff Waters’ explosive return to form.

In fact, this relentless storm of a record is a full-on hurricane of heaviness.

An avalanche of angst buries the senses.

And Waters floods Ballistic, Sadistic’s soundscape with waves of incisive invective.

Last summer Rushonrock was given a sneak preview of Annihilator’s latest long player.

And Waters let slip that some pretty serious personal shit had influenced Ballistic, Sadistic’s underlying themes.

You can hear the raw fury and sense the seething wrath.

On Psycho Ward, premiered live during last year’s UK and European tour, Waters roars ‘Take him away/I know a nice little place where the man can stay’.

It’s a threatening couplet straight from the heart. 

And yet within the same song there’s a melodic rock mid-section that would make Toto proud. 

Listening to Waters go all Steve Lukather on lead guitar is AOR-some. If you like that kind of thing.

Elsewhere there are more familiar elements of the polished thrash that made the Canadian metallers such a massive deal in the early 90s.

Tungsten-strength opener Armed To The Teeth, the Alice Cooper-esque Lip Service and volatile Riot ring true and rock hard.

And One Wrong Move is the best of the rest.

Fans of Megadeth and Death Angel will love everything about Ballistic, Sadistic.

Devotees of Alice In Hell and Never, Neverland will recognise the inspiration for a truly remarkable record.

And keen students of NWOBHM will surely appreciate the sense of symmetry given this glorious album’s gnarly North East roots.

This is Waters unfiltered. And we’ll drink to that.