Our top 10 Annihilator songs list presents the music of one of Canada’s most influential thrash/heavy metal ensembles of all time. Since its formation in 1984, Annihilator has been active in the metal scene despite tons of lineup changes. Guitarist and vocalist Jeff Waters has been the only constant member of the band’s lineup over the years. Initially, Jeff Waters teamed up with guitarist John Bates with whom they would later recruit bassist Dave Scott and drummer Paul Malek to form the band’s initial lineup.
Annihilator’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
After its formation, Annihilator made demo releases, one in 1985, another in 1986, and the last in 1987. By the time the band released its third demo, “Wicked Mystic”/”Word Salad,” its lineup had already undergone changes. John Bates and Dave Scott had left the band as a result of personal and artistic differences. The band would replace them later on, signing a recording contract in 1988 with Roadrunner Records, home to King Diamond and Merciful Fate.
The following year, Annihilator released its debut album, Alice in Hell. Alice in Hell featured a former member of D.O.A. on the vocals. The album retains its legacy as one of the most impactful thrash metal classics of all time. “Alison Hell,” “W.T.Y.D.,” and Word Salad” are some of the best Annihilator songs of all time from the album. Other notable metal classics released the same year through Roadrunner Records include Beneath the Remains by Sepultura, and Slowly We Rot by Obituary.
Annihilator’s Album Releases over the Years
In 1990, Annihilator went on to release its sophomore album, Never Neverland. Unlike the band’s debut LP, which was primarily a thrash metal album, Never, Neverland was a blend of thrash and speed metal sonic influences. Never, Neverland went on to become yet another career-defining album by the band. The album went on to rise to number forty-eight on the UK Albums chart. “Stonewall,” “The Fun Palace,” and “Never, Neverland” are the biggest songs by Annihilator from Never, Neverland.
Annihilator returned in 1993 with its third studio album, Set the World on Fire. The album saw the band take a twist on its sonic influences, featuring heavy metal and speed metal sounds. This was met by an uproar by some of the fans who were already getting used to the band’s thrash metal sound. Nevertheless, the album was a success in Japan and Germany, where it made it to the charts at number forty-seven and seventy-nine, respectively. “Set the World on Fire,” “Brain Dance,” “Phoenix Rising,” and “Knight Jumps Queen” are some of the fan-favorite tracks by Annihilator from the album.
Annihilator departed from Roadrunner Records after the release of its third studio album. Its 1994 fourth studio album, King of the Kill, went on to be issued through Hypnotic/CMC International. The album featured Jeff Waters on the bass, guitars, vocals, and production, while Randy Black took on the drums. King of the Kill went on to peak at number eighty on the Japan Albums chart. “Annihilator” and “King of the Kill” are the most popular songs by Annihilator from the album.
In 1996, the band released its fifth studio album, Refresh the Demon. The album was issued through Music For Nations, once home to Opeth, Megadeth, Paradise Lost, Testament, Metallica, and Slayer. Refresh the Demon peaked at number eighty-four on the Japan Albums chart. “Ultraparanoia” and “Syn. Kill 1” are some of the best Annihilator songs from Refresh the Demon.
Annihilator released its sixth studio album, Release, in 1997. The album was issued through Music For Nations and CMC International. Release saw the band blend its signature thrash metal sound with industrial metal and groove metal sonic influences. Some of the biggest Annihilator songs from the album include “Murder” and “No Love.”
In 1999, Annihilator returned to Roadrunner Records, where it issued its seventh studio album, Criteria for a Black Widow. The album saw the band take on thrash metal with some speed and progressive metal sonic vibes. Criteria for a Widow went on to peak at number seventy-nine on the German Albums chart. “Bloodbath” and “Loving the Sinner” are some of the best Annihilator songs from the album.
The return to Roadrunner Records was not as impactful as the band’s first two albums with the label. This forced Roadrunner Records to drop the band after Criteria for a Black Window. Eventually, the band signed a contract with Steamhammer Records, where it issued its eighth studio album, Carnival Diablos, in 2001. Carnival Diablos went on to peak at number seventy-one on the German Albums chart. “Epic of War,” “Shallow Grave,” “Denied,” and “Time Bomb” are some of the musical gems by Annihilator from the album.
In 2002, the band went on to release its ninth studio album, Waking the Fury. The album was issued through SPV GmbH, an independent record label based in Germany. “Striker,” “the Blackest Day,” and “Nothing to Me” are some of the biggest Annihilator songs from Waking the Fury.
Annihilator was taking quite a long time to rejuvenate its fading influence in the metal scene. Its next albums, All for You, Schizo Deluxe, and Metal, were all fairly received in the mainstream. Annihilator’s eponymous thirteenth studio album marked the band’s return to mainstream success. The album rose to the German, Japanese, Greek, and French album charts. Annihilator also charted at number one hundred and ninety-three on the UK Albums chart.
Feast, the band’s fourteenth studio album, catapulted the band to mainstream and commercial success. The album peaked at number one hundred and fifty-six on the UK Albums chart. “Deadlock” and “No way Out” are some of the best Annihilator songs from the album. Annihilator returned in 2015 with its fifteenth LP, Suicide Society. Suicide Society is home to some of the greatest Annihilator songs, including “Snap,” “Suicide Society,” and “Creepin’ Again (Parasomnia).”
In 2017, Annihilator issued its sixteenth studio album, For the Demented. For the Demented was a success, also charting in the German, Belgian, and Swiss Albums charts. “Twisted Lobotomy,” “One to Kill,” and “For the Demented” are some of the best Annihilator songs from the album. The band would later return in 2020 with its seventeenth studio album, Ballistic, Sadistic. Ballistic, Sadistic is home to some of the biggest songs by Annihilator, including “Armed to the Teeth,” “Psycho Ward,” and “Dressed Up for Evil.”
Annihilator remains one of Canada’s biggest thrash metal bands. Other notable thrash metal bands from Canada include Razor, Sacrifice, and Voivod. Throughout its career, the band has made album sales totaling over three million copies. The band’s founder Jeff Waters, however, credits acts such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest for their influences on the band’s excellence in the metal scene. Annihilator has covered songs by Judas Priest, AC/DC, and Van Halen acknowledging their influence in the rock and roll scene. Here are the ten best Annihilator songs sampled from the band’s seventeen studio albums.
#10 – Striker
Opening our top 10 Annihilator songs is the electrifying hit “Striker.” The song is among the most popular songs from the band’s 2002 LP, Waking the Fury. “Striker” has its lyrics penned by Jeff Waters, who also handles the guitar and bass for this record. The song’s instrumentation is top-notch, to say the least.
Randy Black also showcases fervent drumming skills in this song, especially in his solo after the third minute. A mind-blowing guitar solo by Jeff Waters follows Randy’s exquisite drum solo. Former Overkill rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Joe Comeau takes on the vocals in this song, and his delivery is just on point!
#9 – Armed To The Teeth
Thrash metal doesn’t get any better on the band’s most recent album, Ballistic, Sadistic, than with the hit “Armed to the Teeth.” “Armed to the Teeth” is among the tons of Annihilator songs that bring the individual brilliance of Jeff Waters. Jeff handles the better part of the song, including the vocals, the guitars, bass, and production. “Armed to the Teeth” brings the best of the band’s thrash metal sounds and is probably the major reason the song towers over most of the releases on Ballistic, Sadistic. The song serves as the lead track and album title track to Ballistic, Sadistic.
#8 – Suicide Society
Coming in strong at number eight on our top 10 Annihilator songs is the phenomenal hit “Suicide Society.” The song is featured on the band’s 2015 eleven-track album of the same name. “Suicide Society” finds Jeff Waters taking on the vocal duties from Dave Padden, who was the band’s lead vocalist since 2004.
While the song has been described as a thrash metal ballad, its traditional metal and hard rock sonic influences are too prominent to be ignored. “Suicide Society” oozes energy reminiscent of the band’s golden years. Its funky instrumentation and Jeff’s inspirational vocal delivery make the song a perfect and worthwhile lead track for Annihilator’s fifteen LP.
#7 – King Of The Kill
In 1994, Annihilator released its fourth studio album, King of the Kill. King of the Kill came right after the band was dropped by Roadrunner Records. However, the album was a success thanks to the band’s return to its signature thrash metal sound. The album’s album title track makes it to number seven on our top 10 Annihilator songs list.
“King of the Kill” was penned by Annihilator’s frontman Jeff Waters and John Bates. The song is proof of the continued collaboration in songwriting by Jeff and Bates, despite the departure of Bates from the band’s lineup. Jeff Waters revealed that the song’s lyrics allude to a female lion.
#6 – No Way Out
Number six on our top 10 Annihilator songs is the outstanding hit “No Way Out.” The song is featured on the band’s fourteenth studio album, Feast. This was among the last songs to feature Dave Padden on the vocals. “No Way Out” was penned by Jeff Waters, who also takes credit for composing the song’s music.
The song’s lyrics allude to Jodi Arias, who murdered Travis Alexander, her former lover, in 2008. While Jodi cited self-defense as the cause of her action, the prosecution painted her as a deliberate killer. Jeff Waters visualizes Jodi as a self-centered malicious psychopath.
#5 – The Fun Palace
Never, Neverland is without a doubt one of Annihilator’s career-defining albums, having it feature several fan-favorite hits. One of the fan-favorite hits from the album is our fifth best Annihilator song, “The Fun Palace.” Like most of the band’s hits, “The Fun Palace” deals with lyrical themes of psychological illnesses. The song tells of an expedition taken by an offender who had committed some grave sins.
His confession comes after years of grappling with guilt. “The Fun Palace” features some epic guitar work by the band’s founder Jeff Waters. Coburn Pharr gives an inspirational vocal delivery on this track. Unfortunately, Coburn left the band in 1992, only making a short appearance in 2015.
#4 – Deadlock
“Deadlock” is yet another phenomenal hit from the band’s fourteenth studio album, Feast. Songs like “No Way Out” and “Deadlock” are the reason Feast went on to become a commercial success. Jeff Waters’ inspirational guitar riffs on this fast-paced thrash metal ballad give Dave Padden a chance to showcase some of his best vocals as Annihilator’s lead vocalist. Mike Harshaw’s work on the drums is also worth noticing!
#3 – Stonewall
Number three on our ten best Annihilator songs list is the stunning hit “Stonewall.” The song is yet another magical release from the band’s sophomore studio album, Never, Neverland. Like most of the songs from the album, “Stonewall” strikes a balance between thrash and speed metal sonic influences. “Stonewall” is among the fan-favorite songs by Annihilator that bring to light the band’s solid musicianship.
#2 – Set the World On Fire
When Annihilator released Set the World on Fire, the band considered a little evolution to some heavy metal sound with a touch of speed metal. The gamble saw the band receive mixed reactions for the album, especially from its thrash metal fans. However, the album was still magical, thanks to songs like “Set the World on Fire.”
The song was penned by Jeff Waters and former lead vocalist Coburn Pharr who left the band in 1992. “Set the World on Fire” is solely based on the themes of dictatorship, taking inspiration from the 1991 Gulf War. Aaron Randall was the man on the lead vocals on this song.
#1 – Alison Hell
Number one of our top 10 Annihilator songs is the stunning hit “Alison Hell.” The song is featured on the band’s debut album, Alison in Hell. “Alison Hell” is a collaborative lyrical piece by Jeff Waters and John Bates. Its lyrics allude to a girl who believes that she is being haunted by an evil spirit.
Eventually, the girl in the subject runs out of her mind after being ignored by her parents in her pursuit of help. Jeff revealed that the song was based on a true story about a mentally ill girl from Montreal. “Alison Hell” is a depiction of the band’s empathy for Alison’s plight. The song was covered by Cradle of Filth in 2017.
Feature Photo: S. Bollmann, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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