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Annihilator: Live at Masters of Rock CD
Groove Metal, Thrash Metal
Steamhammer Records, SPV Records
May 4th, 2010
Release length: 1:12:47
Live at Masters of Rock is the title of Annihilator‘s long awaited live CD and DVD. Both versions feature the same exact show from start to finish, just clearly one includes the video of the performance. The CD version made available for those who didn’t want the DVD, as well as to milk money out of the die hard fans and collectors since this CD accompanies the DVD edition. Either way, this is a nice companion piece to have, as the quality of the recording is well suited for the CD, and makes for another great live album for fans to rock out to.

Annihilator‘s live material usually isn’t to scoff at, at least when it comes to CDs. The DVD version of this does have it’s issues, but what is more simple and typically done right for this band then a live album? The audio quality on this recording is great, much like the two live CDs that came before it, acting more like a professionally recorded album, but just done live. The performance on this disc is great and all the songs are performed perfectly compared to the originals, with the only exception being “The Blackest Day” which features newer vocalist Dave Paddon handling it. His performance on this song, as well as during “Phantasmagoria”, does leave little to be impressed by since his vocals don’t really fit the music being played, being too clear and melodic for the intense Thrash riffs that compose these songs. But, don’t worry as Jeff Waters also handles some vocal duties on this release as well!

The release jumps from various vocal performances between Dave and Jeff Waters. Many of the classics, such as the highly energetic “King of the Kill” and “W.T.Y.D.”, really breathing the classic Annihilator vibe they are most known for. Dave’s rendition of some of the classics is also highly enjoyable, but only during the more melodic tracks that either were composed for his vocal style, or called for a more melodic singer such as the Never, Neverland songs “Never, Neverland” and “Fun Palace”. He also sings on the song “Shallow Grave”, which closes the album, and it’s a good performance, it just sounds a little odd hearing him do it instead, as a rougher vocal performance would have been a little more appreciated, but really isn’t absolutely necessary.

This release also happens to see some issues as far as the packaging goes. While the aforementioned “The Blackest Day” and “Phantasmagoria” on here wind up being a little less intense then you would hope due to Dave’s signature style, the artwork on this seems a little cheap as well. First of all, part of the band’s logo is missing on the front artwork, and on the insert of the CD, the track “King of the Kill” features a typo and instead is called “King of the Hall”. These silly little design issues really aren’t anything major, but are just that: Silly. They could have easily been fixed before the CD version of this release shipped to stores. Aside the packaging woes, the only other gripe about this CD overall would be that some of the transitions between songs aren’t too fluid. Once in a while, whether paying close attention or not, you can honestly hear the crowd skip, like a failed editing job. That and sometimes the crowd seems to grow awkwardly quiet, such as the introduction to “Never, Neverland”, which has a little cut from the DVD to make the flow between tracks for this audio release feel more natural. There’s also a sudden jump in speech at the end of that track into “Fun Palace” that just doesn’t seem human when you considering breathing between words and the rather odd half cut out guitar chord between the two sections. It’s little things like these that you can pick up on as you go through, though most won’t really hinder your listening experience, just maybe aggrivate a little bit as you continue to pick up on it.

As far as the CD version of Live at Masters of Rock goes, it’s a great accompanying piece that is a lot of fun to listen to and a must have, whether you buy the DVD version and get this free, or don’t care about the visuals (or want to shell out the price) and just want the CD version. Annihilator‘s performance on this live release is truly an energetic one through a good chunk of the album, and really shows why this band is considered one of the greatest live acts. The only drawbacks to it are certain tracks that Dave Paddon does a good job at, but you just yearn to hear Jeff Waters perform instead, or his vocals simply don’t work with the tracks as well as you hope they would.

01. Intro – 1:49
02. King of the Kill – 4:43
03. Blackest Day – 5:24
04. Operation Annihilation – 6:02
05. Clown Parade – 4:47
06. Set the World on Fire – 5:17
07. I Am In Command – 4:41
08. Never, Neverland – 5:38
09. Fun Palace – 5:39
10. Phantasmagoria – 5:07
11. W.T.Y.D. – 5:09
12. Wicked Mystic – 4:33
13. Alison Hell – 6:53
14. Shallow Grave – 7:05
Overall Score: 7.5/10

Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.
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