CMC Universal, Roadrunner Records
June 1st, 1999
Release length: 50:50
The music on this album is far more aggresive then anything the band has done before, and holds a very dark feeling to it. Having Randy Rampage back on vocals really does bring back some nostalgia, but it really does help in providing that grim atmosphere, having a harsher tone on his vocals then on previous albums that suits the music perfectly. The musical range does vary throughout the album though, starting off absolutely insane with the blistering “Bloodbath” and “Back To The Palace” tracks, to the dark and sinister slower tracks “Punctured” and “Criteria For A Black Widow”. You also have some catchier songs that don’t sound as menacing, like “Nothing Left” and “Loving The Sinner”, only to go back to the blistering in-your-face thrash that kicked off the album.
The title track, “Criteria For A Black Widow”, will easily be a hit or miss song for many of the listeners. It’s clear that the song is aimed at someone in his life by the lyrics, as well as some of his speach in the “Jeff Waters Speaks” bonus track, making it a great song, however the flow of the song may be too slow for some, and perhaps the lyrical content and the way it’s structed will turn others off to it as well. The song “Punctured” is another hit or miss track, but it’ll take some time for people to make up their minds, as this track is rather impressive on the first few listens, but after a few more it may wind up just being drawn out. And, even though Randy’s vocals on this release suits much of the album’s music, sadly it doesn’t fit in with the chorus to “Nothing Left”, leaving him sounding a bit out of place.
And speaking of the bonus track, the US version of this release through CMC Records features two bonus tracks. Included on this version is the song “Loving The Sinner”, but with Jeff Waters on vocal duties, which acts more as a demo song, which is explained in the commentary track “Jeff Waters Speaks”. The commentary track, which appears on the US versions of the Annihilator albums put out through CMC Records at that time, basically has Jeff Waters going through the album, giving you insight about how the reincarnation of the original line-up came about, and the inspirations behind the labum, as well as the songs. This track is actually rather interesting, as it helps you to connect to the songs on a more personal level then you would have had you just listened to the album and made your own deductions as to what the song(s) meant.
Criteria For A Black Widow is one hell of a comeback album from Annihilator, and was clearly one that had to be made. The insane guitar work, technicallity, and overall dark and despair feeling of the album with spots of brighter, hopeful sounding moments and the “Mending” instrumental, assault you from start to end in what feels like an accidental conceptual album. It also helps that the bonus conversation track on this release really bring the album to a personal level that most fans of metal face on an every day scale.
01. Bloodbath – 5:22
02. Back To The Palace – 5:34
03. Punctured – 5:50
04. Criteria For A Black Widow – 5:57
05. Schizos (Are Never Alone) (Part III) (Instrumental) – 5:53
06. Nothing Left – 4:52
07. Loving The Sinner – 4:38
08. Double Dare – 5:27
09. Sonic Homicide – 4:31
10. Mending (Instrumental) – 2:46
11. Loving The Sinner (Jeff Waters Vocal Version) (Bonus Track) – 4:34
12. Jeff Waters Speaks (Bonus Track) – 11:57
|Overall Score: 9/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.