Of all the albums Annihilator could follow up, why would they pick Metal? The
2007 collaboration project bisected a fanbase that was already dwindling, begging the thrashers to rediscover the fast-fingered dynamism of magnum opuses Alice In Hell and Never, Neverland. While one half was wowed by the album’s 12 cameos, which included Willie Adler and Jeff Loomis, the other was deflated by the forgettable songwriting.
Then you realise Metal II isn’t a sequel, despite its name explicitly stating such. Instead, it’s a re-recording, replacing Dave Padden with ex-Iced Earth singer Stu Block, and Mike Mangini with drumming deity Dave Lombardo. All the guest spots we heard 15 years ago, though, remain untouched. So, takes tracked in 2006 are stitched onto the new trio’s efforts, formulating a half-decayed Frankenstein’s Monster of metal.
Metal II isn’t without merit. It’s gratifying to hear Stu escape Jon Schaffer’s Capitol Building-shaped shadow, as Chasing The High crams his best Chuck Billy, Steve Souza and Rob Halford impressions side by side. During Romeo Delight, his jocular swagger joins Alexi Laiho’s solo to avoid the homogenising of a Van Halen classic.
Dave, however, is wasted; his talents never get to steal the show as much as merely frame it. Plus, the songs are as bland now as ever. Army Of One idolises metal with the creativity of a Wikipedia list (‘Anthrax! Motörhead! Exodus! Slayer! Bang your head!’), while the album’s melodies couldn’t be flatter if they were pummelled beneath an iron foundry press. This is especially true of Couple Suicide’s glam schmaltz, where Danko Jones and Angela Gossow’s vocals have been mechanised and muddied by time.
Metal II is a wilfully deceptive swipe from one-time thrash idols – especially when the original is getting reissued soon. If terrible ideas weighed a gram, this would be heavier than the Eiffel Tower.
Metal II is out now via Earmusic