Classic Album Review – Annihilator “Alice in Hell” 1989

  It would have been very interesting for the metal world had Jeff Waters accepted Dave Mustaine’s invitation to join Megadeth on any of the three occasions it was on offer over the years; his blistering guitar skills would have been right at home inside the speedy ‘Deth machine and likely inspired even more envious youths in the basements and garages of the world. The barrier is that Waters has never been one to subordinate his creative vision to anybody, and even now isn’t about to join anyone else’s band. He has always gone his own way, and for better or worse this has helped make Annihilator a well-kept secret for over 20 years. Back in ’89, however, his self-recorded debut Alice in Hell tuned a lot of heads, those of Roadrunner Records and Mustaine included.
Things begin with “Crystal Ann”, a bright, instrumental opener that is strong enough to stand on its own and doesn’t sound tacked-on, which is something of a lost art nowadays. Ann’s playtime is cut short by the arrival of main event “Alison Hell”, a sprawling, complicated Mercyful Fate-flavoured behemoth of terror. Actually, King Diamond would sound right at home on any of this material. Alas, what we get instead is Randy Rampage, who is terrible   unique gives it his all on vocals, eventually winning us over with his dedication to the cause,  if not the strength of his pipes. The other tracks are a bit more compact, but no less ferocious. “Burns Like a Buzzsaw Blade” contains more than its fair share of narm, but as previously discussed,  the attempt to write a sexy thrash number was a strange preoccupation of the genre’s early years (I blame WASP).
Eighties hangover notwithstanding, it’s all a beautiful, complex, over-the-top time capsule that certainly belongs in your library. Bargain hunters take note: Alice in Hell is available in a “Two From the Vault” configuration packaged with Never, Neverland, an album which is actually superior to its predecessor in every way except the one that counts: the ability to inspire nostalgia. The enthusiasm of the all-star crew tackling “Alison” at the Roadrunner United anniversary concert shows us just how fondly this record is remembered: as the first surprise salvo in Jeff Waters’ one-man war with the world. 8 out of 10


One Response to “Classic Album Review – Annihilator “Alice in Hell” 1989”

  1. This is an outstanding classic album! Love it!

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