ANNIHILATOR — Set the World on Fire (review)

ANNIHILATOR — Set the World on Fire album cover Album · 1993 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
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!
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Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I understand why a lot of people don't like this album, and like I said those ballads rival Dream Theater when it comes to pure sap. I love how this album is more "fun" though, and to contrast Criteria For a Black Widow is another one of my favorite Annihilator albums which is a lot darker.
Vim Fuego wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Dis.A.Gree totally! I dislike this album so much! All the crunch and heaviness of the first album was gone, its slick production was aimed at the mainstream, and then the immature song writing completely missed the target! It is still fast in places. Brain Dance and Knight Jumps Queen still stick in my mind to this day, but for all the wrong reasons, and the rest of the album is bland and forgettable. Or at least I've forgotten it...

Sorry for all the negativity. I can see your point of view from the review though, and you do make some good points.


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