Now THIS is what I like to hear from an ANNIHILATOR album! I generally avoid repeating the press-sheet hyperbole in reviews, but master shredder Jeff Waters was not kidding when he hyped "Schizo Deluxe" as follows: "This time around I went right for the throat: 100% thrash metal with an attitude. No ballads. No breaks in the insanity. 'Schizo Deluxe' is what a lot of metal fans have been screaming at me to give them this time: Brutal guitar riffs and solos, second-to-none musicianship, and back-to-the-roots thrash/heavy metal songwriting." It's all true, folks. Along with EXODUS' "Shovel Headed Kill Machine", ANNIHILATOR's 11th release is one of the best thrash albums you will hear in 2005. It is quickly becoming one of my favorites.
With the possible exception of a few melodic vocal sections from Dave Padden, there is none of the experimentation and style changeups you heard on "All for You". This one is about riff crunch, ripping solos, and tunes that stick in your head. Though most of what Padden does is no-nonsense thrash barking (with his often peculiar, sometimes Hetfield-like cadences), several tunes do feature his melodic side. The album can be broken down roughly into several song types. For starters, you get straight-ahead mid-paced groovers, such as "Maximum Satan" (basic, but catchy chorus), "Warbird", "Something Witchy" (including some melodic vocals), and "Like Father, Like Gun" (nasty groove and a memorable chorus). Then there are the maniacal speedsters (vocal patterns and Waters riff holocaust) like "Drive" (includes a brief bass solo) and "Invite It" (seriously oddball vocal lines). Though not quite as speedy, "Too Far Gone" is a tough thrasher with blazing licks. "Plasma Zombies" — a tune about the lazy, video game culture of America's youth — has a little of both (speed on the chorus, crunch groove on the verse). Along with "Plasma Zombies", "Pride" and "Clare" are two of the album highlights, though there are no lowlights. The former features the album's catchiest chorus (this one is still bouncing around in my cranium), while the latter boasts the album's most interesting arrangement. Furthermore, "Clare" has got a creepy "Alison Hell" vibe, as well as a strong hook and compelling tempo changes (there is even mention of "Alice," though I can't verify the connection, as I don't have the lyrics).
My understanding is that different regions get a different set of bonus tracks. My U.S. copy features "Weapon X", an outtake from the "All for You" sessions (and included on "The One" EP). An extra sweet bonus is the inclusion of classics "I Am in Command" (rehearsal version) and "Annihilator" (not the "King of the Kill" version).
Once again I'm happy as a pig in shit that quality thrash albums like "Schizo Deluxe" are being released in 2005. Whether you're a longtime ANNIHILATOR supporter or a fan of thrash in general, you can't go wrong with this album.