HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Annihilator - Waking The Fury
(SPV Germany)

The pure metal soldiers battle ever on, Jeff Waters keeping his word by retaining the Zetro/Baloff services of Joe Comeau, who fits that terror tag team description and so much more, matching Waters riff for riff as they careen at high speeds from subgenre to subgenre. First thing one notices about Waking The Fury is its exaggeratedly fuzzy guitar tone, the most prominent of a handful of hand-picked six-string sounds Waters deftly places here and thither. There is also a sophistication of production choices, most evident on the meticulous layering of Ritual, Waters crafting a piece of edgy metal magic that grooves despite its high science. Prime Time Killing and Fire Power are even more distorto-proud, nearly industrial, one able to imagine these tracks as a highlight on Priest's Demolition or Jugulator albums. Waking The Fury's AC/DC homage comes late in the album, Nothing To Me being a spirited party rocker, tight but again, mercilessly grooving, a guilty pleasure on the record to be sure. But the crowning glory of this album is that its novel production and mix has resulted in a defined and definitive modern Annihilator sound, Waters no longer grocery listing his influences, these tracks cohering under those tones, that cohesion intensifying through Waters' strict, direct, linear, "commercial", "major label" thrash ethic on almost every track at every speed.
Rating 8

The Jelly Jam - The Jelly Jam

Those who dug Platypus will be pleased to know that this is three of four guys from that band going nuts with what is essentially a record that is both very complicated, but catchy and vocal-based. Ultimately it is a success, but it is dangerously of two minds. Sequenced for maximum altitude sickness, The Jelly Jam offers seriously heavy, note-dense and circular Ty Tabor rockers over odd but grooving time signatures laid down by Dream Theater rhythm wizards John Myung and Rod Morgenstein, pressed against languid, psychedelic and bluesy gaping maws that are sometimes instrumental and sometimes the perfect vehicle for Tabor's boy scout pipes. Overall, I find myself a little disappointed in the unexpressive production values, but quite impressed by the band's ability to rock out in mathematical King's X mode while still maintaining purely pleasurable logic. Still, there are two very different halves to this record, and I almost would have wanted to see the band come up with two new band names rather than one, and place their chips accordingly. Highlight: Nature's Girl which is a grinding, passionate clinic on how to be funky and ragingly heavy at once.
Rating 7.5

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