Annihilator - Refresh The Demon Review
by Matt Hensch
It became blatantly obvious during the 1990's that Jeff Waters was the primary foundation of Annihilator. The band's inconsistent lineup was an endless thread of new members coming and leaving as Annihilator rolled through the 1990's. Jeff Waters eventually decided to write, record, and perform a majority of Annihilator's material to avoid any problems that would most likely occur if other bandmates were hired. Though this seemed like a risky move, Waters was able to rebound from the commercialized Set The World On Fire with 1994's King Of The Kill, which ended up being a smash among Annihilator fans. Waters continued doing everything himself on his next effort: Refresh The Demon.
Anyone who knows the slightest bit of information about Annihilator can probably agree with me when I say they're one of the most inconsistent metal bands of all time. Annihilator started strong with the legendary Alice In Hell and Never, Neverland, but it has been a rocky path ever since as the group continues to make albums that don't reflect the skill and ideas that were once there. Unfortunately, Refresh The Demon is one of those records that just isn't up to par with their potential talent and ends being another all-too average Annihilator release.
Musically speaking, Refresh The Demon presents nothing new in the typical Annihilator catalog, yet Waters is able to mold some good riffs that are scattered across the course of this record. The standard thrash riffs that were prevalent on previous Annihilator albums continue throughout the duration of Refresh The Demon. Some of songs are drastically slowed down and are filled with groove riffs that turn out to be rather enjoyable. The end of this album begins to seem a bit boring because it all just sounds somewhat generic and there isn't anything new being done. Some of the riff variety is very limited (which I'll get to later), but at the end of the day, this is an average shredding effort by Jeff Waters.
Jeff Waters's short stint as Annihilator's vocalist is an important phase in the group's history and Refresh The Demon is the last offering of his surprisingly good vocals. Waters uses an aggressive display of singing with an emphasis on anger that is quite common with other thrash vocalists. The Annihilator leader also shows his ability to function as a normal singer on "Innocent Eyes" when he drops the aggressive tones and adds smooth vocal harmonies to his voice that sound calm and emotional. Waters's vocals are the best part of this record and it would be a lot worse if someone else was singing.
The lack of riff variety and horrible lyrics on Refresh The Demon are definitely the album's weakest points. Most of the guitar work here is ok, but some of the songs sound almost indistinguishable. The main riff on the title track is EXACTLY identical with the shredding on "Syn. Kill1" and there is no way to tell them apart. "Hunger" is just a slower version of "Ultraparanoia" with a tiny note change, but the similarities are painfully clear. Waters should have spent more time correcting the riffs, but he didn't, and Refresh The Demon suffers from it.
I usually don't have a problem with lyrics, but some of the crap Waters spits out is ridiculous. The lyrics were clearly rushed when this album was made as Waters seems to say whatever was on his mind during the vocal recordings. Take "Anything For Money" and this poorly written verse:
"I'd sell my mother and I'd steal from the blind
just to have every last nickel and dime
break-ins and muggings, I'll try to defraud
I'll run up the bill on your credit card"
Need I say more?
This is pretty much a mediocre album overall. It has some good moments and some bad moments, but it's an average listen when you boil down to the point. Annihilator has done both better and worse than Refresh The Demon, but I suggest sticking to Alice In Hell and Never, Neverland before you consider buying this.
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