Ballistic, Sadistic is the 17th album to be released by the Canadian thrash metallers, and it shows they are not set on slowing down anytime soon. The flying V guitar belts out such blistering notes I’m surprised the guitarists don’t have superficial burns to their fingers.
How explosive is the energy conveyed with the album cover? If you hold it just right you almost duck every time you look at it thinking you are going to your lights knocked out by tortured woman wielding a jaw crunching brick. Breaking away from repression and the confines imposed upon you by anyone that makes you feel trapped is a theme that runs through the album. Humans should have the freedom to choose what they want to do and we should never underestimate the power of someone for whom that is taken away. The scantily clad woman breaking out of a steel cage strongly links to the first song ‘Armed to the teeth’ in which the music video shows a bullied girl who is taken for granted for being weak and easily overpowered, but shows that adversity brings out the strength in people. I feel like you can almost see some of Jeff Waters’, lead singer and guitarist, the resemblance in the girl breaking out. If this is true it might signify that he empathizes with the repressed and he would lend his spirit to embolden them.
Jeff has said before that he wants to focus more on the song as a whole rather than to have a regular song structure. Instead, the focus is on the song being memorable all the way through. He stuck to his machine guns on this one and each song runs through moderately atypically to normal. The riffs are impressive, fast and are probably quite technical.
Lyrically, I’d say that everything is pretty much well stated. There aren’t too many metaphors to hide behind. It’s all an in your face attitude to say it how it is. People with power getting what they want despite the consequences or the regard for others. In ‘Lip service’ there is anm expression of Man’s ego boosted by misuse of others for his gain. When you think about it make you feel insane and send you to the ‘Psycho ward’, a song that brings good memories of Anthrax and Metallica who are bound to have inspired them.
When you put on an album you’ll soon realize that Annihilator is one of the bands that make up the pillars of world thrash metal bands, let alone Canadian ones. The music is more heavily driven by a thrash guitar firing notes off like bullets at close range. The pace is generally fast with no real slow songs to provide a change of pace but in the middle of the song of ‘Dressed up for evil’ there comes a time when the bass comes in a couple of times to break the chain of command of the guitar. Bass also leads the way into the song ‘Lip service’ giving it a sexy bouncy feel that maybe the song content tries to convey.
There are always some incredible solos flying around. They are delivered with the precision and ferocity that every air guitarist loves to play along. Strings are bent, and whammy bars are levered to create the squeals and harmonics that punctuate the solos. They can all be quite chaotic and crazy at times so it makes it a bit harder to easily grasp onto them by memory.
Overall, this an album that will not disappoint a thrash metal enthusiast thanks to the energetic vibe of the whole album. Because of the general heaviness of the subject matter, it will appeal to those people who are passionate about anti-war and ‘Damn, the man!’. A variety of song textures and tunings would’ve been good. But I tell you what, you’ll be slipping ‘Ballistic, Sadistic’ into your phraseology soon enough just as something to say when something is amazing or crazy or whatever you use it for.
- Armed To The Teeth
2. The Attitude
3. Psycho Ward
4. I Am Warfare
5. Out With The Garbage
6. Dressed Up For Evil
8. One Wrong Move
9. Lip Service
10. The End Of The Lie
Release Year: 2020
Label: Silver Lining Music
Reviewed by Byron Lotz