ANNIHILATOR — Never, Neverland (review)

ANNIHILATOR — Never, Neverland album cover Album · 1990 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
UMUR
"Never, Neverland" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Canadian thrash/heavy metal act Annihilator. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in September 1990. There have been a couple of lineup changes since the band´s debut full-length studio album "Alice in Hell (1989)" as lead vocalist Randy Rampage has been replaced by Coburn Pharr and guitarist Anthony Brian Greenham was replaced by David Scott Davis. Greenham was credited for playing on "Alice in Hell (1989)", but actually didn´t perform. Instead all guitars were handled by Jeff Waters. "Alice in Hell (1989)" was a major artistic and commercial success for Annihilator and it was always going to be hard to make a follow-up to such a highly regarded release.

Stylistically Annihilator continue the thrash/heavy metal style of their debut album, only this time around slightly less savage and a good deal more sophisticated. The material on the 10 track, 44:03 minutes long album still features sharp thrashy riffing and energetic powerful rhythms, but the melodic heavy metal part of the band´s sound is more dominant here than on the predecessor. The album features many harmony guitar sections, incredibly fast-paced and melodic guitar solos, and quite a few interesting compositional details, which ensure a good deal of variation throughout the playing time.

It´s interesting to note that Annihilator have added a couple of their old demo tracks in re-recorded versions: "I Am in Command" from the "Welcome to Your Death (1985)" demo and the title track from the "Phantasmagoria (1986)" demo. They´ve also used sections from "Back to the Crypt" from the "Welcome to Your Death (1985)" demo and the intro to "Gallery" from the "Phantasmagoria (1986)" demo on the "Never, Neverland" title track. The remaining material on "Never, Neverland" was specifically written for the album.

There are several highlights to mention here (including all 5 tracks on Side 1 of the original vinyl version of the album), but I´ll give special mentions to "The Fun Palace", for its extensive use of harmony guitars, "Sixes and Sevens", for its sharp thrashy riffing and great energetic solo section, and of course the almost progressive structured title track, which features some beautiful acoustic work, brilliant solos, intriguing lyrics, and a powerful hard edged middle section. Especially Waters is on fire throughout the album playing one sharp and memorable riff after another, and his solo work is nothing short of amazing. Although I´ve read interviews with Waters where he downplays his skills and calls himself a fast-playing blues guitarist, that´s definitely not the whole truth.

Other highlights include the anti-DIU song "Road to Ruin" (which is quite ironic as Waters had quite a bit of trouble with his alcohol addiction in those days), "Stonewall", and "Imperiled Eyes". "Kraf Dinner" is a bit silly, but still a powerful and energetic track, and "Phantasmagoria", "Reduced to Ash", and "I Am in Command" are also pretty high quality material, although the those tracks (which represent the closing part of the album), don´t quite reach the excellence of the first part of the album.

So "Never, Neverland" doesn´t have any problem matching the high quality of its predecessor. In fact I dare say Annihilator upped the bar on this album and released an even stronger album than the iconic debut. Sure there are a couple of minor issues with the album like the fact that Coburn Pharr doesn´t have the most interesting or powerful voice, or that the sound production lacks a bit of bottom end (especially the drums sound a bit thin), but when it comes down to it, "Never, Neverland" is a completely unique sounding release, featuring some great material and a very well playing band, and a 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved, despite a few smaller issues.
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UMUR wrote:
43 days ago
I listened to this one before the debut album, and it will always be my favorite. The debut has some great moments too though.
adg211288 wrote:
43 days ago
Easily in the running for my favourite thrash album (in a race of two).
Vim Fuego wrote:
43 days ago
I found this to be quite a disappointment when it first came out. It didn't have the bite of the debut, and was too polished. In retrospect though, it's a damn sight better than the third album, which was an abomination!
siLLy puPPy wrote:
44 days ago
Just listened to this. I prefer the debut just a smidge but this is definitely worthy of masterpiece status for sure.

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