For The Demented is the Canadian Thrash Metal legends, Annihilator’s 16th studio album, and was released in 2017. After some utterly incredible albums in the late 80s/early 90s, the band with the jaw dropping number of personnel changes seemed to have a wilderness period and several reinventions throughout the years, and after a rebuilding period of five studio albums with the line-up stability of having singer and guitarist Dave Padden fronting the band, things would change yet again.
This is the second record with bandleader, lead guitarist and primary songwriter Jeff Waters back behind the mic, as he had been previously in the mid-90s on the superb and underrated King Of The Kill and Refresh The Demon albums, (and the misguided experiment of Remains). I almost worry why Jeff ever bothered to have a singer in the first place, as he is suitable for the band’s sound and could have held the Dave Mustaine position throughout their career instead of just on and off at different periods.
I’ve heard some people throw around words like ‘return to form’ and ‘comeback’ but there have been so many different Annihilator albums like that over the years that I don’t think there is any real consensus. You’d be hard pressed to find any album after 1994 that wasn’t both in receipt of a 5 star and a 1 star review simultaneously.
Stylistically; There is a bit more variety here than just rehashing the first two albums, but in another way it does feel like Jeff is leaning into traditional Thrash sounds a bit more and eschewing some of the more ‘modern’ touches and commercial choruses of the last few albums. It seems like quite a focused album, which is largely succinct and direct, with little in the way of ‘wacky’ moments and no cringey ballads.
For The Demented’s real success is that it doesn’t outstay its’ welcome, there is no filler. Its over and done in 48 minutes and none of the songs drag on. There are some damn fine songs on here. The faster songs like the syncopated ‘Twisted Lobotomy’ and ‘Altering The Altar’ are entertaining and impressive and give me everything I want from an Annihilator album. There’s also a more fun Jeff likes Van-Halen type song, the type that have cropped up every so often since the third album, here in the form of ‘The Way.’ The only track that you could really skip is the brief instrumental ‘Dark’ which is basically just a brief palate cleanser before the final track.
The most memorable song however is the cannibalism themed ‘Pieces Of You’ which goes between some shimmering slow Never, Neverland-style guitar and into some chunky post Black Album groove, and features some rather daft lyrics. It seems weird to want to throw your fist in the air when someone sings ‘’Mayonnaise and some pepper, a bit of salt!’’ but that’s where we are.
In terms of quality, this album is rather strong. I personally like it a lot. In terms of where it fits in the band’s back catalogue it isn’t so crazily great that it would topple any of their first four albums from their top positions in my mental rankings, but it is better than many latter day albums from other Thrash Bands. To bring up yet another unnecessary Megadeth comparison, I feel like this album may be their United Abominations, where you can feel the pendulum has fully swung back into the upper half of the catalogue again, not quite up to the same perfection as their best work, but there is still a lot of potential for the future.