As the venue slowly starts to encounter punters wandering through the main doors with curious eyes scanning the merchandise stall, Santa Cruz, Californian natives Archer (3.5) take to the stage, armed with punchy hard rock compositions that get a small, but positive response. As a three piece, Archer create a sort of hybrid of hard rock style riffs, that occasionally touch on elements of NWOBHM, with a slight whiff of the thrash metal make-up about them. We are treated to a cover of Tornado of Souls, which is pulled off surprisingly well, considering the use of only one guitar. Archer are an interesting band that is worth keeping an eye on, for the simple reason that there is clearly a lot more under hood that I feel we didn’t get to see, due to the short performance time.
Next up is the five piece Australian thrash outfit, Harlott (4.5/5). Hailing from Melbourne, Overdrive has been hearing nothing but positive things about these guys and were beyond pleased to learn that they would be supporting Annihilator on this tour. With a few minor technical difficulties from the beginning of their set, Harlott wast no time in ripping the Button Factory a new arse! By the third song in, the five members are firing on all cylinders, offering a sound that could very well have been discovered in the lost and found section of Slayer’s, Seasons in The Abyss, demo sessions.
Vocalist Andy Hudson, has a hilarious sense of humor which just adds to the entertainment factor, making Harlott a true pleasure to watch. By the end of the bands set, small circle pits break out on the main floor and a sense of the whole venue slowly creeping into Hudson’s palms is evident. A blistering performance from a truly gifted ‘old school’ style thrash band, which leaves us all screaming for more once they finish! Awesome!
So, on to the main attraction. With a now packed venue, all hanging for the mighty Annihilator to take to the stage, the conversation in the venue is mostly dominated by the older veterans all reminiscing about the last time they had seen the Canadians, as well as the younger fans, who are wide eyed with excitement, at seeing the Über talented, Jeff Waters just feet away from them.
With a sudden dimming of the lights, Annihilator burst on to the stage, with Jeff leading the charge. Opening with King Of The Kill. From the go, it’s painfully obvious just how incredible the latest incarnation of Annihilator sound tonight.
A blistering set-list of old and new favourites come in the shape of Snap, Suicide Society (title track of the bands recent studio release), the brilliant Creepin’ Again, No Way Out and Set The World On Fire. As they work through the set-list, the intensity of the main floor pushes towards the berserk end of the spectrum. Sloppy pits break out amongst the younger contingent, who loose their shit to the classic anthem that is, Never Neverland.
Stalking the stage and in rude health, is the enigmatic Jeff Waters, who eggs on the Button Factory capacity at any given chance, all the while commanding his thrash empire with his virtuosic band members Mick Harshaw (Drums), Rich Hanks (Bass) & Aaron Homma (guitar), who are simply stunning musicians in their own right.
As Jeff regales his last performance in Ireland with some light hearted banter and ‘ribbing’ the crowd, he tears into the opening melody for Tricks & Traps, causing unified air punching, before all hell breaks loose! It’s hard to believe that gems like this are nearly twenty years old (1997) and begs for the question of why Annihilator never made it to the lofty heights of their thrash peers.
With a rather pointless (but good) drum solo, considering the rich back catalogue to choose from, the band continue with their assault in the form of City Of Ice, Brain Dance and Phantasmagoria, before we arrive at the staple anthem that led many a teenager struggling to keep up with the hectic guitar riff in Alison Hell.
Sadly at this point, Annihilators crushing set comes to an abrupt ending, due to lapsed time on the venue curfew and as the band’s final notes ring out at the end of Alison Hell, the venue begs for more, until the house lights are gently eased up.
Tonight Annihilator pulled off a blistering set list of classic and inventive thrash lightning bolts, which reminded this writer of just how much the Annihilator sound has evolved since first seeing them back in London’s Marquee in 1990. Why they are not playing venues a hundred times this size is beyond me!
WORDS – ORAN O’BEIRNE
PHOTOGRAPHY – DOWN THE BARREL PHOTOGRAPHY
© OVERDRIVE 2015
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