As the autumnal sun sets over the city skyline in Wolverhampton, a group of metal heads gather in a back street. We're back at K.K.'s Steel Mill in Wolverhampton as thrash legends Annihilator roll into town.
The evening kicks off with one of our favourite up and coming acts, Elyrean. We followed them through the Metal 2 The Masses competition at this very venue earlier in the year and onto their performance at Bloodstock Festival. It's their first time back on this hallowed ground since and they are out to make an impression. Blighted by technical issues during their first song, they soon recover and start to warm up this thrash crowd. The youngsters put on a commanding performance of technical thrash and won themselves fans amongst the crowd and the headline act.
Archer Nation are somewhat of an unknown quantity, the Californian three piece are the main support for the full European jaunt and are grasping the opportunity with both hands. Their sound has a well polished finesse about it. They are thrash metal, reminding me often of Megadeth throughout their set. But that sound... WOW... its huge, its well defined and it lacks the rough edges many thrash bands have. These boys could make it big with a bit of leg work.
Annihilator return to the UK after a storming tour in support of Testament last year. Night after night they blew the headline act away and its only right they now tour as headliners. The stage is set, a huge white backdrop dominates the stage, splattered in blood and announcing Annihilator's imminent arrival.
Opening with Betrayed the theme of the night is set, fast paced, aggressive thrash all delivered by the grinning duo of Jeff Waters and Aaron Homma. Bassist Rich is far more serious, a Cliff Burton-esq figure banging his head and swinging his hair as he plays away.
King of The Kill gets the crowd moving and signing along, fists pumping as the pace remains frenetic. The set varies from old song to newer material, sometime at detriment to the atmosphere. Sadly most of the fans here are looking for the older material and thus the reception at times seems flat.
A magnificent drum solo from Italian youngster Fabio Allesandrini highlights the mid point and give the rest of the band a short break. When they return fan favourite Phantasmagoria is welcomed with cheers, a popular song amongst the gathered masses. The classics continue with Crystal Ann and Alison Hell rounding out the night.
Thrash metal is somewhat seeing a revival at the moment and Annihilator are riding that wave. They are back with a classic live performance in one of the best venues around.