JEFF WATERS steps down as ANNIHILATOR vocalist; STU BLOCK tapped for future live shows
Seven years after re-assuming the vocalist role after the departure of Dave Padden, ANNIHILATOR mainman Jeff Waters will return to focusing on his original position as the band’s lead guitarist. Current INTO ETERNITY and former ICED EARTH vocalist Stu Block will take over vocals for at least some of the future live performances. Block can also be heard on “Metal II”, the re-worked version of the band’s 2007 “Metal” studio album. “Metal II” also features former SLAYER drummer Dave Lombardo.
In a new interview with BLABBERMOUTH.NET, Waters was asked whether his recent bout with COVID-19 affected his vocals. “It might make them better,” he said. “The way I sing, it might make them better. Finally, I can do a raspy voice without having to try. No, actually, what I’ve done, again, with this big sort of life-changing thing in my little world, when I talked to Stu Block and Dave Lombardo about doing this — it’s not a new record ‘Metal II’, but I consider it ‘re-envisioning.’ It’s not meant to be some competitive thing. The drummer on the original, Mike Mangini, is probably one of the best drummers in the world. Dave Padden, our singer and guitar player, was great. It wasn’t about that. It was ‘Let’s release a second version.’ Not stomp on the past. It was something fun to do to create attention for the label that they are releasing the catalog. It’s working so far. People are like, ‘Wow! A new album.’ I’m like, ‘Well, sort of.’ So I decided I’m not singing anymore. I’m a guitar player. I took over singing on my fourth record, ‘King Of The Kill’.”
When asked whether his abdication of vocal duties meant increased involvement for Block in ANNIHILATOR, Waters said, “Bingo. I asked him if he would do the reunion thing — because it’s been 31 or 32 years or something for our first three Roadrunner albums. To North America, those are the only ones anyone has ever heard, especially the first two. We actually have another 14 albums.”
Waters alluded to a possible North American reunion tour featuring past ANNIHILATOR members who played on the band’s early, seminal Roadrunner Records albums, particularly 1989’s “Alice In Hell” and 1990’s “Never, Neverland”. “Alice In Hell” vocalist Randy Rampage passed away in 2018, leaving “Never, Neverland” vocalist Coburn Pharr and “Set The World On Fire” vocalist Aaron Randall as possible guests on the proposed tour.
“If Coburn is healthy enough, he’s into it,” said Waters. “I told Stu I don’t want to sing anymore. It’s too taxing. It takes too much of a toll. I’m not a great singer. It’s really tough to play and sing. I don’t have that natural, awesome singing voice. Like, for example: METALLICA‘s James Hetfield and MEGADETH‘s Dave Mustaine are amazing. Hetfield for his tones, but Mustaine, as I found out singing — I’ve done about seven records with my band as a singer, so probably about 20 tours, including festivals — Hetfield was my guy, but Mustaine also became my guy, so to speak, he can write these rhythm guitar riffs and what James does is he’ll do a simple riff and sing on it. When he’s done singing, here’s the real, killer James Hetfield, then he goes back to singing. That came out of JUDAS PRIEST. That’s probably where he got it. Glenn Tipton was a genius. If you listen to Rob Halford on any of those classic PRIEST songs, they’re playing one note on the guitar. When Halford stops, here’s the riff. That’s Hetfield. Dave Mustaine threw out all that garbage. He’s playing all this crazy-timed stuff and able to sing over it. It’s incredible.
“I’m not in that league,” he continued. “I think I’m a good guitar and bass player — I do all the bass on the albums. I think I’m pretty good at guitar and bass and some other things, but guys like that are just the top. Fans know it because of the songs, but I think musicians who take this seriously for a career look at these guys and go, ‘They’re so much bigger and better than what you see on the news sites posting and showing people making a mistake on YouTube.’ They’re beyond genius. I was like, ‘Let me stay on guitar like I used to do. Do you want to come and sing with us anytime we do shows, like the anniversary tours?’ Stu said, ‘Absolutely for the anniversary tour. It would be a blast.’ Plus, he’s a good backup if one or the other singers wasn’t feeling well or can’t make it.”
earMusic recently announced a reissue series of (almost) the entire ANNIHILATOR catalog. In total, 18 records are going to be released over the next few years, including the original 2007 version of the “Metal” album.
Other guests on “Metal II” are Willie Adler (LAMB OF GOD), Alexi Laiho (CHILDREN OF BODOM), Steve “Lips” Kudlow (ANVIL), Dan Beehler (EXCITER), Jesper Strömblad (IN FLAMES), Angela Gossow (ARCH ENEMY), Jeff Loomis (ARCH ENEMY, NEVERMORE), Anders Björler (THE HAUNTED, AT THE GATES) and Corey Beaulieu (TRIVIUM).
Founded in 1984, ANNIHILATOR took the metal scene by storm with its debut 1989 release “Alice In Hell”, upped the ante with 1990’s “Never, Neverland” and has continued a non-stop career-pattern of releasing records and touring with many of the biggest bands in the metal genre (mostly all outside North America), ever since; cementing ANNIHILATOR as the biggest-selling metal act in Canada’s history.
“Metal II” track listing:
01. Chasing The High (ft. Willie Adler)
02. Downright Dominate (ft. Alexi Laiho)
03. Army Of One (ft. Steve “Lips” Kudlow)
04. Couple Suicide (ft. Danko Jones and Angela Gossow)
05. Heavy Metal Maniac (ft. Dan Beehler and Allan Johnson)
06. Haunted (ft. Jesper Strömblad)
07. Romeo Delight
08. Detonation (ft. Jacob Lynam)
09. Clown Parade (ft. Jeff Loomis)
10. Smothered (ft. Anders Björler)
11. Kicked (ft. Corey Beaulieu)