Annihilator live in London 2019

The Underworld. Creatively called so because it is located in the depths of hell underneath the well-known World’s End pub in the heart of Camden. The World’s End is recognized as one of the favourite places for alternative people to stop for a drink, and especially since the gig was so close to Halloween you would not feel a touch out of place if you turned up in full Halloween attire for a cheeky pint before the gig. This monster show tonight was sold out, and you would honestly wonder why such a big band were not booked in to a larger venue, especially since all the other venues on their tour are much bigger than the tiny Underworld. Nobody should be complaining though, as the fans in attendance got what could be seen as a near enough intimate show.
Annihilator London Shows 2019 poster
The first on stage were melodic doom death metal 5-piece, Fragmentum. Bizarrely, this was their only performance on Annihilator’s tour, and they came all the way from Belgium to play tonight. Although this was their first ever time in the UK, many metalheads came down early to catch these guys, who have released their debut album “Pugnacity” earlier this year after completing a short tour across the USA with Children Of Bodom. Their punchy but balanced performance at the Underworld has shown the London crowds what Belgians are capable of, with Jan Bruggeman supplying the majority of very dark vocals and skilfully ripping through his guitar, while Gunnar Nopens also assisted on vocals and performed his guitar duties accurately. The band is still new to the scene but judging by their ability to warm the room up for mighty Annihilator, they have a very large potential and you should keep an eye out for them. The set ended with a loud cheering and applause from the audience.
 
The next band, the metallers Archer Nation, travelled halfway across the globe from Santa Cruz, California, to be the support on this tour. The room filled up almost to the brim for this band, and very quickly it became obvious that these guys could come back to headline their own successful tour if they so desired.
 
Beginning their set with “Not My Own” from their latest album “Beneath the Dream”, Dylan Rose immediately stuns everyone with his technical guitar shredding mastery, mixed with clean but still rather grimy vocals. It takes some serious skill to be able to multitask the two, to the level he performs at. The trio have only released two albums and an EP in their time as a band; however they are constantly on the road and also have a history of touring with Annihilator a few years ago. “Shackled” was second on the set list, also from their newest album, followed by “Acedia”. In between the songs, Dylan knew how to get the crowds excited, also dropping a few jokes along the way about how they were going to play some love songs, because that’s obviously what they’re about.
 
Although the band have seen some line-up issues over the years, the current line-up of Dave De Silva on bass and Keyhan Moini on drums shows a brilliant bond between them, creating a fantastic buzz on stage, especially with Keyhan’s exceptional yet unique drumming style truly resembling animal from the Muppet Show. “Hell in a Handbag” and “Day That Never Came” were the only two songs not from the new album, followed by “Division” and “Severed”. The last song was the perfect finisher, “I Am the Dawn” the first song from the new album, which also has a music video on YouTube. This band has a promising future; their distinct sound will travel far and wide, possibly even beyond their hard rock and metal fans.
 
After both of the support bands were done setting the building on fire, the time had come for the audience to get totally annihilated! Annihilator came on stage one by one, with the entire sold out crowd cheering at every single member, and begun the set with the fast paced “Betrayed” from their 13th studio album “Annihilator”, which was released in 2010. Annihilator could be recognised as one of the pioneering thrash bands with so many years under the belt. After being brought to life in 1984 by Jeff Waters, who is currently on guitar and vocals, the group has seen more line-up changes than Slipknot’s current member count. However, thanks to Waters usually working on these albums single-handedly, writing, mixing and producing, this has not stopped a whopping 16 studio albums getting released along with another one in the works to be ready for January 2020. Annihilator are currently getting through their 7-week European tour which will end in December, however the set list consisted of mainly their older material, which you’ve got to be honest there is a lot of.
 
Waters, despite juggling all of his guitars and vocals, stirred havoc down in the packed room, with at least a third of the entire turnout being involved in an insane pit which opened up the moment “Betrayed” started playing. The carnage continued with the next songs “King of the Kill”, “No Way Out”, “One to Kill” (surprisingly the only song in the set from the latest album), and “Set the World on Fire”, with the entire band radiating electrifying energy by doing what they very clearly love to do.
 
In between many of the songs, Waters would talk to the audience about his experiences throughout the years; crazy stories including some big names and moments he cherishes that he is so grateful to be able to share, and everybody there was totally absorbed by what he had to share – just like when grandma used to tell us those fascinating stories when we were kids. During one of his talks, someone from the crowd requested that Waters plays one of his ridiculous joke songs “Chicken & Corn”, to which he probably had no other option but oblige to, even if it was just a snippet. Everybody laughed, and then it was back to business. “Ultraparanoia”, “The Trend” and “Schizos (Are Never Alone)” parts 1 and 2 followed, before the very alluring and talented Fabio Alessandrini, Annihilator’s newish drummer, who is almost 10 younger than the actual band itself, blew every single person away with his insane drum solo, while the other members went off stage to catch a well-deserved breather.
 
More carnage followed, with “Knight Jumps Queen” from their 1993 album, “Twisted Lobotomy” from their more recent, 2017 album, also called “Twisted Lobotomy” and “Psycho Ward”, which was specifically dedicated “to that one shitty person you wish would get hit by a bus” by Waters. The lengthy but very pleasurable set continued with “Tricks and Traps” then “Phantasmagoria”, between which the crowds were enlightened with some exciting news that Coburn Pharr, the original singer of the album “Never, Neverland”, will return with the band next year to perform the entirety of the album together, leaving many people in the room visibly excited. “Burns Like a Buzzsaw Blade” was the second to last song, with the very well-known “Alison Hell” being played as a perfect way to end the disgustingly sweaty set. This one was dedicated to their ex-frontman Randy Rampage, who unfortunately passed away last year. Waters once again enlightened the crowds, this time about how crazy it was having Randy in the band and all the memories they had.
 
The man definitely has a lot of insane stories to tell, but it brings the crowd together and allows the fans to get a more personal insight on the band’s, as well as Waters’, history. Annihilator, as a group, interact with the audience at every chance they get while up on stage, as well as create an aura of brilliant energy especially with their current line-up, as they undoubtedly all get along so well. Their positivity, diligence and obvious passion beams right from them, making their gigs very memorable ones.