Annihilator Biography

This thrash metal band is a vehicle for the talents of classically trained Canadian guitarist Jeff Waters (13 February 1966, Ottawa, Canada). The initial line-up of Annihilator was formed in 1984 by Waters, John Bates (vocals), Paul Malek (drums) and Dave Scott (bass). After the break-up of this line-up, Waters set the underground scene alight with a demo entitled ‘Phantasmagoria’. He then relocated to Vancouver to work on Annihilator’s 1989 debut, Alice In Hell. This was a tour de force of intricate thrash, with all the guitars and bass parts played by Waters, who also produced and wrote the material, with Randy Rampage (vocals, ex-D.O.A. ) and Ray Hartmann (drums); the line-up was augmented by Anthony Greenham (guitar) and Wayne Darley (bass) after the recording. The sizzling guitar work helped the record to become, at the time, the bestselling debut in the history of Roadrunner Records.

The band subsequently suffered from an unstable line-up, with Greenham being replaced almost immediately by Dave Scott Davis, while Rampage departed when touring was complete, with ex-Omen frontman Coburn Pharr stepping in. Never, Neverland (1990) was another excellent effort, displaying rather more lyrical maturity than the debut, and a new version of ‘Phantasmagoria’. Band stability remained an issue, and Davis’ departure on the eve of a European tour as guests of Judas Priest caused problems due to the sheer complexity of the material, but the band nevertheless managed to produce creditable performances.

After a lengthy break, Waters and Darley returned with new guitarist Neil Goldberg, drummer Mike Mangini (b. 18 April 1963, Newton, Massachusetts, USA), and another vocalist, Aaron Randall. 1993’s Set The World On Fire, though less well received by the metal press than previous offerings, revealed some promising progression beyond thrash boundaries into more melodic spaces, and sold well. The remixed and unreleased tracks compilation Bag Of Tricks marked the end of the band’s initial tenure with Roadrunner. 1994’s King Of The Kill saw Waters take over lead vocals and featured Randy Black on drums. The 1996 follow-up Refresh The Demon was poor, but Waters bounced back the following year with Remains, effectively a solo album which introduced an exciting new industrial direction.

The Roadrunner set Criteria For A Black Widow (1999) reunited Waters, Rampage, Hartmann and Davis, with Russell Bergquist joining up as bass player. Another personnel overhaul saw Joe Comeau replacing Rampage on Carnival Diablos. Curran Murphy and Randy Black then replaced Davis and Hartmann respectively on 2002’s Waking The Fury. Yet another vocalist, Dave Padden (b. 13 February 1976, Canada), was in place for the band’s AFM Records studio debut All For You. This 2004 recording also featured the return of Mike Mangini, but he had departed by the time of the following year’s Schizo Deluxe. The 2007 release Metal featured numerous guests including Mangini, Corey Beaulieu (Trivium) and Alex Laiho (Children Of Bodom).

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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