Against My Better Judgement, Conspiracy
Principal Club Theater, Thessaloniki, Greece

After nine long years of absence, the best Canadian metal band of all times visited the city of Thessaloniki, to promote their new self titled album, thirteenth in the row, after 21 years of discography. I guess this wasn’t enough for many fans, as they didn’t appear to honour the band. Somewhere about 300 people for one of the best metal bands of all times is nothing but shame, proving once more that many people continuously argue and nag about concerts not coming in the city, and once this happens, they do everything to take their words back. At least the ones attended were fortunate to see the band in tremendous shape, playing a setlist coming from the weirdest inspirations of Jeff Waters, the undisputed mainman of the Canadians and one of the last guitar heros alive.

Conspiracy were the first band to open the show. Real deal old school thrash metal, the ’80s way. The sound on the guitar was a little louder than the other instruments, plus the fact we couldn’t hear any toms or hi-hats, just the double-bass. The singer had his birthday and seemed to have extra fun because of this. Adding some covers from Razor, D.R.I and S.O.D. they managed to take the crowd by their side. Honest performance applauded by the fans. Against My Better Judgement is a band from Katerini, nearby Thessaloniki. Their style is rather modern and it didn’t fit at all with the mood of the whole gig. They played well for half an hour but just like Conspiracy, they didn’t have a good sound, so most of their efforts went in vain. They played some new songs and some of their EP ”Fate Got Black. They were also applauded by the crowd, but the fans were waiting for the headliners of the night.

Annihilator is the joy of the metalhead craving for energy and riffs. All these years they have had their ups and downs just like most of the bands out there, but they still remain a strong act ready to give 100% for the fans. Entering with ”Ambush” from their new album, they show from the very beginning what is about to follow. Pure molten metal full of guitars and double bass. Getting straight to ”Clown Parade” from the previous album ”Metal” they seem they will try to play as much as they can from most of the albums they have done, and it is ”Plasma Zombies” from ”Schizo Deluxe” that starts some movement going on, with the fans eager to run and mosh as much as it gets. Great song to be played live, until ”King Of The Kill” proves how much large tune it is, with the people starting diving off the stage and Jeff Waters dealing with the vocals. Excellence!

Next was another new one, ”Betrayed, being one of the best tracks of their new release, shortly to be followed by ”The Box”. This was a big surprise though, but still very welcome, proving that Annihilator can play great in slower tempos as well. The good sound helps them perform even better and this new line up has adapted to the likes of the always demanding leader Jeff Waters, which keeps on making jaws drop with every riff and solo. ”Hell Is A War” is the next surprise and its silent intro is followed by one sickening riff that makes heads bang. One by one they collect the dead, right Jeff? To make matters better, comes ”Time Bomb” from ”Carnival Diablos” to maintain the groove of the atmosphere. That’s why next one was ”Ultra Motion” from ”Waking The Fury”, and as Jeff said, ”I know Greece likes speed, so show me what you’ve got”. And this was what happened with a large moshpit in the centre of the venue. Well done folks.

Time to go back to basics with the title track of the third album ”Set The World On Fire” being one of the must have songs in an Annihilator gigs. The crowd is on fire again, and the big explosion comes with ”W.T.Y.D.” from the legendary debut album ”Alice In Hell”. One of the best moments of the show, with Jeff leaving the microphone and just letting the people sing along (when they don’t mosh of course). Brilliant times which get interrupted with ”The Trend” from the new album. Short intermission, because ”The Fan Palace” reminds us how great is the ”Never, Neverland” album. Only joy in the face of each person I see around me, everyone singing along and banging heads to the last second. ”Tricks And Traps” was the weirdest song to be played, especially being from ”Remains” which ain’t the most favourite album to the fans. Not bad at all though…

It was time for a special acoustic suite, with ”Phoenix Rising” and ”Sounds Good To Me” from ”Set The World On Fire” making people clap hands and Waters state ”On the whole tour, you are the only ones that kept smiling ’til the end”. He can’t hide his joy, but also his talent. Time for some extra groove with ”21” with ”King Of The Kill” being by far the album represented more on the gig. And straight after that, ”Phantasmagoria” started the massacre which ”Crystal Ann” and ”Alison Hell” ended. Eternal tunes which we have grown up with and lived many memories. Absolute admittance of the band’s worth with the members thanking us and Dave Padden proving throughout the whole gig why he’s eight years in the band. Truly amazing guy, playing also guitar. I personally hope that there won’t be another nine years until they come back. On the other hand, I can’t say I see it very possible for much earlier with such attendance. Still after all, Alice dwells in hell!

* Check out more photos of the show here.

Report: Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.
Photos: Louis Konstantinou photography.