Alice In Hell


Roadrunner, 1989

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When digging through the vaults to decide what to review next, I came across a staggering statistic: it’s been over 20 years since we featured Jeff Waters and Annihilator.

How any of us on the panel didn’t get to covering Alice In Hell, Annihilator’s debut effort, is a bit of a shocker for me. I remember the complete full-court press that college radio was giving this one for the assorted metal programs that were out there, and I seem to remember the guys who ran the show being particularly fond of this group.

They were correct to have those opinions, to my ears. It might not have been an album to break new ground, but my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Alice In Hell is a powerful first statement from Annihilator—one, in fact, they’ve been fighting to top all these years.

Best known for “Alison Hell” and “W.T.Y.D.” (an acronym for “Welcome To Your Death”), Waters and vocalist Randy Rampage absolutely slay the listener with an audio assault on their ears. Fans of thrash metal undoubtedly have worn through copies of this album based on these two songs alone. The drum work of Ray Hartmann provides the remainder of the sonic backbone. (Although Anthony Brian Greenham and Wayne Darley are given credits on the album, they did not actually perform on any of the recordings; Waters handled all guitar work, including the bass—early proof that this was Waters’s show.)

But there is much more to Alice In Hell than the two best-known songs. Throughout the course of the album’s nine tracks, Waters shows his absolute skills as a guitarist, beginning with the opening instrumental “Crystal Ann.” The speed and precision on tracks like “Schizos (Are Never Alone)” and “Human Insecticide” add to the argument that Annihilator could well have been an underappreciated band in the metal genre.

It’s not to say that everything is perfect; “Burns Like A Buzzsaw Blade” has its moments, but is weaker when compared to other songs on the disc. The same argument can be made for “Ligeia” and “Wicked Mystic”—again, they’re not bad songs by any means, and they do fit well in the scope of the whole album. But they might not be the songs I’d be immediately jumping on.

The sad fact about Alice In Hell is that its own debut marked the beginning of what would be a continuing revolving door of musicians. By the time Annihilator would regroup for their sophomore release, Rampage would leave the band, and Greenham would never officially record a note with the band.

Still, Alice In Hell is an amazing first volley from Waters and crew, and even with the few weak moments, remains a “must own” album in the thrash metal genre.

Rating: A-

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