ANACRUSIS
"Annihilation Complete"

(StormSpell)

01. Disemboweled/Annihilation Complete
02. Imprisoned
03. Pendulum
04. Fighting Evil
05. R.O.T.
06. Frigid Bitch
07. Vulture's Prey
08. Apocalypse
09. Injustice
10. Frigid Bitch (1986 demo)
11. Pendulum (1986 demo)
12. Imprisoned (1986 rehearsal)
13. Fighting Evil (1987 rehearsal)
14. R.O.T. (1987 rehearsal)
15. Injustice (1987 rehearsal)
16. Powerhouse (1988 rehearsal)

RATING: 10/10

A godly treasure trove for a select few of us, a big fat sack of "what?" for the rest of the world, this compilation is the motherlode for obsessive fans (are there any other kind?) of this recently-reactivated St. Louis progressive thrash band. While they deservedly achieved a higher profile with later, more cleaned-up efforts like "Manic Impressions" and "Screams and Whispers", ANACRUSIS started life as a murky, doomy, introspective thrash band with an insane-o drummer and a constant battle with the limitations of no-budget recording. And much as the sodden sonic quagmire that envelops their "Reason" album actually added to its dense, gloomy atmosphere, the lo-fi murk on their "Annihilation Complete" demo became part of the brooding charm that got them noticed and on the map.

This reissue presents the entire second recording of "Annihilation Complete" on disc (put together after the first demo master went ten rounds with a dubbing deck and lost), and adds a slew of rehearsal cuts, plus an entire DVD with four live shows and photos galore. Some of the live stuff even dates back to vocalist Kenn Nardi's previous band, HEAVEN'S FLAME, where a few of these early ANACRUSIS gems were born before he hooked up with Kevin Heidbreder, John Emery and Mike Owen, originally just as a fill-in till they found a permanent singer. It's hard to imagine, years after these songs have become part of diehard fans' lives, that this was an embryonic effort from a band barely out of their cover-tunes phase -- but such was the creative power locked up in this unassuming bunch of mulletheads, matched with the desire to make metal that said something and avoided the already-tiresome cliches of the day.

Despite the limitations of the four-track recording, "Annihilation Complete" is actually a more diverse, progressive and dynamic piece of work than "Suffering Hour", the album where most of these songs wound up. Talk about full circle -- fans of the newer material, listen to the song "Vulture's Prey" and find the origins of "Brotherhood?", one of the last songs on final album "Screams and Whispers". Songs like "Apocalypse", "Vulture's Prey" and the gloomy "Pendulum" (later reworked as "Killing My Mind", a bonus track on "Reason") show a young band trying their damnedest to make metal on their own terms, unafraid of doom, dissonance or melody at a time when many of their peers were running in endless circle pits of futility. And their best work at the time — collaborative pieces like "Imprisoned" and "Fighting Evil" — still hold up to this day, proof that for all the talk of the progressive side of ANACRUSIS, they could and did write compelling hooks to go with their impassioned lyrics and unorthodox arrangements.

I could go on for pages — there's not even a chance of professional objectivity here, as ANACRUSIS long ago changed my life and altered the way I've looked at music — but why? If you have even a passing interest in this band, or in the origins of what we used to call "thinking man's thrash" for lack of a better term, the demo recordings and camcorder footage here will put you in hog heaven. If you're as stupidly fanboy about them as I am, you've already scored this, of course, with a second copy stashed in an undisclosed location to guard against the day "Annihilation Complete", the reissue, becomes as scarce as "Suffering Hour" did years ago. And if you consider yourself a student of metal's history, it's time to immerse yourself in the arcane lore of a band so far ahead of the curve they were on a different planet than their peers. Eternal thanks to StormSpell for preserving this strange and wonderful band's origins for posterity.

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