Sound Bites: Annihilation Time keeps it all in the Family
August 8, 2008
Annihilation Time touts its tightknit lineup and loose amalgamation of ’70s rock with ’80s hardcore, which reminded me of another set of family ties: the Descendents and All.
The parallel was loud and clear the other morning as I was cranking Annihilation Time’s new disc on my way to Sacramento. “Tales of the Ancient Age” roars out of the speakers with “Splash Back,” a screed that evokes “Suburban Home,” the opener on the Descendents’ best-of, “Somery.”
In the ’80s, the Descendents laid down the template a number of bands would follow to pop-punk stardom a decade later, but few of them could match the hard, fast, precise ” and funny ” original. When Descendents lead singer Milo Aukerman famously went to college, three-quarters of the band continued on with a different frontman as All, tweaking the template toward crossover thrash: If the Descendents were a buzz saw, All reinvented the Stihl.
Annihilation Time creeps closer still, throwing in more metallic elements, such as the dueling guitars of Graham Clise and Wes Wilson. “Tales of the Ancient Age” sounds like Thin Lizzy’s guitarists jamming with All’s rhythm section in an alley between the arena and the punk club ” fortified with a jigger of ReTox’s liquid courage.
According to the record company, Annihilation Time has always cast itself as a brotherhood. When founders Clise and Chris Grande (bass) need new players, they don’t insert a stranger but go with a “bro.” The current lineup sounds like it has jelled over its six years together. Grande and drummer Noel Sullivan inject a hint of stoner-rock slop into the backbone as the guitars chase each other overhead. It’s not just that the lyrics reminded me of All and the Descendents, it’s that Jimmy Rose belts them out like Chad Price.
” I wish that you were here/talk about the good times and drink some beer/It’s hard to accept I’ll never see you again/It’s hard to believe I lost my friend …”
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Yeah, the song’s called “Flight Into Forever,” that’s the bridge, and it seems to be about a dead bro. But put that lighter away unless you plan on burning something: There’s not an acoustic guitar anywhere nearby, and Annihilation Time never lets up on the furious tempo, sounding more pissed (in both the British and American senses) than sad.
Likewise, the band barrels straight through its 10 tracks, finishing with “Germ Freak (I Ain’t No).” It’s not just the title that reminded me of “I’m Not a Loser” but that on “Ancient Age,” Annihilation Time sounds like the Descendents at their gnarliest ” a high bar, to my ear. I once heard that the Descendents intended songs like “Hurtin’ Crüe” to be a parody of crossover thrash, but Annihilation Time ” which unfortunately canceled a show Friday, Aug. 8, in Reno ” sounds like a band that’s serious about its sound.