This is a review I could/should have had up sooner, but I’ve spent a lot more time actually listening to the album when I should have been writing about it! I can only cover two thirds of the titular “triple” as the final one is a set of video interviews and so forth which come with the DVD version. The 2-CD set consists of an acoustic disc and a live show recorded at Germany’s Bang Your Head festival last year.
Of the two, it’s the acoustic CD that’s by far the best… and that’s even taking into account that the live show is superb, though a little of the crowd noise seems a little fake in places. The interaction, such as shouted choruses in “Alice in Hell” and “Welcome To Your Death” work fine, but the ambient noise between songs just seems a bit “off” for some reason. Still, it’s a good set with the usual history-spanning track list that you can always expect from Annihilator and the music itself is well recorded.
Surprisingly none of the songs on the live CD are repeated on the acoustic one. Partly this is due to the fact that Waters and co. have gone for the more laid back numbers for the studio recording (which makes sense) though there are a couple which wouldn’t have been out of place in the live set, such as “Stonewall”, “Snake in the Grass” and “Bad Child”. These acoustic reworkings, though… wow.
Not only have they been tweaked to work better as acoustic numbers, the songs have all been recorded in a single sitting each – no overdubs, layering in of tracks and so forth – “recorded as live” by all involved, along with a little chatter before/after some of them.
Annihilator are no strangers to a clean guitar, fancy fretwork and the occasional ballad so it’s no surprise to see “Crystal Ann” on there, for instance, but it’s amazing how much more emotive something like “Innocent Eyes” is when stripped down to the basics. On the other hand, putting “Bad Child” alongside its very hard-rocking original is almost like hearing two completely different songs.
It’s very common to feel a little dissatisfied with this kind of release. Another live version of a track you’ve heard before. Another remix done by someone who’s just messed with the sound a bit just enough to niggle. This, though, this is well worth a place in the collection as it’s genuinely different. Jeff Waters has always been a “guitar hero” of mine, way back from when I saw the band opening for Judas Priest more years ago than I care to admit. Listening to him (and Aaron Homma, Rich Hinks, Vancouver BC drummer and friend Marc LaFrance plus Ottawa session player Pat Robillard) belting out these numbers without any tricks is utter ear candy.