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3.74 | 35 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1993

Filed under Heavy Metal


1. Set the World on Fire (4:30)
2. No Zone (2:47)
3. Bats in the Belfry (3:37)
4. Snake in the Grass (4:55)
5. Phoenix Rising (3:47)
6. Knight Jumps Queen (3:46)
7. Sounds Good to Me (4:18)
8. The Edge (2:56)
9. Don't Bother Me (3:23)
10. Brain Dance (4:51)

Total Time 38:50

Limited edition dipicak bonus track:
11. Hell Bent for Leather (Judas Priest cover) (02:54)


- Jeff Waters / guitars, 'weird' vocals on "Brain Dance"
- Aaron Randall / vocals
- Mike Mangini / drums
- Neil Goldberg / guitars
- Wayne Darley / bass

- Ray Hartmann / drums on "Snake in the Grass" and "Sounds Good to Me"
- Rick Fedyk / drums on "Phoenix Rising"
- Mark Lafrance / backing vocals on "Phoenix Rising"
- David Steele / backing vocals on "Phoenix Rising"
- Norm Gordon / backing vocals on "Brain Dance"
- The Annihilettes / backing vocals on "Knight Jumps Queen" and "Brain Dance"
- John Webster / keyboards on "Phoenix Rising"

About this release

Full-length, Roadrunner Records, August 24th, 1993

Thanks to Time Signature for the addition and UMUR, 666sharon666, adg211288 for the updates


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After putting out two of the most outstanding and essential Thrash Metal albums of all time in the form of 1989’s classic Alice In Hell and 1990’s Never Neverland; Canada’s best Thrash band (well, in my opinion anyway, we can debate it another time) took their time getting a third album out. The first two albums were largely written in demo form before the band were even signed or (at least before their second record was out) and just perfected over time. An album a year. Nice. Next time round there was more time needed to build up a full record’s worth of material though.

Always a band for constant line-up changes, Annihilator once again saw a big shift in membership. Jeff Waters, band leader, lead guitarist and occasional singer basically IS the band in the way Trent Reznor is to Nine Inch Nails or Josh Homme is to Queens Of The Stone Age or Dave Mustaine is to Megadeth. Jeff obviously stayed, as did bassist Wayne Darley even though he supposedly didn’t actually play on the album. This album features however their third singer in three albums (Coburn Pharr replaced here by Aaron Randall, though Pharr still gets writing credits on some of the songs) their third Rhythm-guitarist in three albums (Neil Goldberg replacing Dave Davis) and their second Drummer in three albums (the lovable Ray Hartman replaced by Mike Magini – now of Dream Theater fame!) and even then, he’s one of three drummer on the album because Ray is still on two tracks and there was yet another drummer on the ballad. With all these line up shifts its like watching Cradle Of Filth’s early career or something!

I suspect that there are some reasons why a lot of people didn’t receive this album as well at the time and again why it isn’t remembered just as fondly as the first two. First reason; constant line-up shifting can give an impression of being muddled and unfocused. Second reason; ballad included, can give impression of selling out. Third reason; came out in 1993 after the glory period of Thrash was over and everyone either sick of it or was told to listen to something from Seattle instead by the press.

Do you know what’s not a reason though? The music. This album is bad ass! From the heavier tracks like the stomping Title Track, the crazy-ass technical workout ‘Brain Dance’ (an absolutely amazing song spoiled only slightly by its silly comedy section in the middle) as well as the speedy ‘No Zone’ to the more shreddy, softer, hard rock jams like ‘Sounds Good To Me,’ ‘Snake In The Grass’ and ‘The Edge’ which show a different side of the band, this stuff is all gold! I remember the first time I read the back of their Greatest Hits CD it said ‘Canada’s Answer To Metallica/The Van Halen Of Thrash Metal’ and I thought well I get the Metallica reference but this album is the first time where I really hear the Van Halen coming out… ‘Don’t Bother Me’ is some serious guitar workout, with that skiffly off-the-rails Van Halen feel, only with the chug and power of Thrash behind it.

The absolute best moment on the album for me however has to be the incredible ‘Knight Jumps Queen’ which is tied with Exodus’ ‘Braindead’ as the catchiest and most memorable Thrash song ever released! That main riff! It sticks in my head for days!

For me, Set The World On Fire is a great record. Its a bit more varied than their previous work. Not just as heavy as often, but in terms of songwriting quality, in terms of musicianship and in terms of fun it ticks all the right boxes. This album is a real winner and vastly underrated. If you haven’t already go on, give it a go! If you have before, give it another chance!
After releasing two critically acclaimed albums right at the beginning of their career, Annihilator hasn't gotten much love since. I think this is a shame, as I've gotten more personal enjoyment from Set the World on Fire and King of the Kill than either of their first two albums. I enjoy their first two albums, don't get me wrong, but I just think they're a bit overrated and eclipse what I see as the band's best albums.

Objectively, Set the World on Fire is certainly not perfect. The last thing that should be done is mix some of metal's sappiest ballads with killer thrash metal tracks. These sappy slices of cheese are "Phoenix Rising" and "Sounds Good to Me", and they sadly aren't cheesy in a good way. However, when you listen to all the other songs and forget that those songs exist, this is one of the most fun to listen to albums in my collection. The lyrics for "Knight Jumps Queen" may be pretty cheesy, but it's one of my all time favorite songs and so fun. How can you not love the bouncy basslines, driving riffs, and Aaron Randall's excellent vocals. I find it impossible to not sing along. "Don't Bother Me" is another song that's just so damn fun, and sounds like Van Halen gone thrash metal.

Speaking of vocals, Aaron Randall was Annihilator's best vocalist in my book next to Randy Rampage, who was perfect on the aggressive end. While most of the band's vocalists have had a good balance between melody and bite, Randall did it best. Sometimes the band sounds a bit like a thrash version of Skid Row here, such as the high contrast song "Snake in the Grass" where Randall's vocals are somewhat reminiscent of Sebastian Bach. Bassist Wayne Darley is a beast on much of the album, with his basslines on both "Knight Jumps Queen" and the aforementioned "Snake in the Grass" being infectiously catchy. The latter is really cool, as the jumpy bass plays alongside acoustic guitar before the electric guitar comes in during the chorus.

The title cut is a total stomping thrasher, and the wacky "Brain Dance" is quite a thrash fest. The rest of the songs have a perfect blend of thrash metal and classic heavy metal, one of the best examples is "Bats in the Belfry". Like all the songs that aren't sappy ballads, this is one of my favorite Annihilator songs. Randall's vocals and Jeff Waters' driving riffing really shine here.

Do those two ballads stink? Yeah, but who cares when the rest of the album is just amazing and pure thrash fun. If you're in the mood for Skid Row-esque heavy metal and thrash at the same time, this is the perfect album to get that wish granted. Along with Slayer's Divine Intervention, Anthrax's State of Euphoria, Testament's Souls of Black, and Pantera's Power Metal, this is another awesome album that is too often forgotten about or criticized. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!
"Set the World on Fire" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Canadian thrash/heavy metal act Annihilator. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in August 1993. The band were at this point at the top of their game after releasing two consecutively successful studio albums in "Alice in Hell (1989)" and "Never, Neverland (1990)". Both sold really well and placed Annihilator among the elite of late eighties/early nineties thrash metal acts. However except for bassist Wayne Darley (who would leave shortly after recording the album) and band founder/guitarist Jeff Waters, the whole lineup had been changed before recording "Set the World on Fire" and paired with a more melodic/mainstream songswriting approach, that had some impact on how "Set the World on Fire" ended up sounding and how it was received by fans and critics.

...while the basis in the music is still thrash metal, Annihilator were always on the more melodic side of the fence and their music also always featured a lot of more traditional heavy metal elements. The music on "Set the World on Fire" generally lean more towards a melodic heavy metal sound than a thrash metal ditto even though tracks like "Set the World on Fire", "No Zone" and "Brain Dance" certainly still feature high speed thrash metal riffing (on a related note, the guitar solo in "No Zone" is nothing short of amazing). As a result the album is actually quite a varied listening experience but as a consequence of the variation not necessarily the most consistent one. While his two predecessors were more raw type thrash metal vocalists, new vocalist Aaron Randall is more of a "real" singer who employ a thrash metal singing style.

Other new faces in the lineup are the extremely skilled drummer Mike Mangini (Dream Theater, Extreme, James LaBrie, Steve Vai...etc.) and second guitarist Neil Goldberg. A class ensemble through and through and that´s audible. Paired with the very well sounding production, everything seem to be working in favor of the album. But...because there is a "but" here. Some of the tracks on the album are either not that memorable, formulaic or a little too mainstream pop/rock oriented (some of the lyrics are also downright cringe worthy) and while the best tracks on the album easily warrant at least a 4 star (80%) rating, the tracks that aren´t that interesting bring my rating down to 3.5 stars (70%). We´re still talking a quality release but it could have been better had it been more consistent in quality and style.

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